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Take off your thinking caps and toss 'em in a corner, 'cuz you won't need 'em when you're watching this deliriously dumb thriller from 1997. Bruce Willis stars as a demoted FBI agent who comes to the aid of an autistic boy whose mind holds a potentially deadly secret. It seems that by gazing on a puzzle magazine and making order out of a hidden system of numbers, the 9-year-old autistic boy (Miko Hughes) has accidentally deciphered a sophisticated top-secret government code. This makes him the prime target of the ruthless bureaucrat (Alec Baldwin, in one of his silliest roles), and Willis comes to the rescue. This formulaic thriller sets up this plot with a lot of entertaining urgency, but you can't give any thought to Mercury Rising or the whole movie collapses under the weight of its own illogic and nonsense. The redeeming values are the performances of Willis, young Hughes, and newcomer Kim Dickens as a woman who agrees (perhaps too easily, it seems) to aid Willis in his plot to outmaneuver the bad guys. Mercury Rising is not a waste of time compared to other formulaic thrillers, but its entertainment value depends on how much you enjoy being smarter than the movie. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
The premise concerns an autistic child who is able to sightread extremely high-order classified ciphers. He's accomplished exactly that with the National Security Agency's latest version, which he's accessed through one of the lamest plot twists imaginable. (They've placed it in a puzzle magazine to beta-test it--no, I'm not making this up.)
So great -- the NSA hires the kid and turns him loose on Chinese, French, and other unfriendly ciphers, right? No they do not. Wake up -- this is Hollywood. They send goons out to kill him, which is where Bruce Willis, playing a conflicted law-enforcement officer of uncertain antecendents, comes to the rescue. From there on it's the standard huggermugger--unnecessary hairbreadth escapes, elite assassins who turn dopey at the most convenient moment, all-but-omniscient villains who can't see the obvious trap at the climax, etc.
The acting was phoned in. Willis can do many things well, but he can't do conflicted. For some peculiar reason, the guy who fed Buscemi into the wood chipper in "Fargo" has his hair dyed black in this one. All traces of quirkiness evident in his performance for the Coens has vanished here.
The sole exception to the overall blandness is provided by the Bloviator himself, Alec Baldwin. Perhaps the film's major offense is the implication that whole scheme is being carried out in support of Iraqi agents working against Saddam. (Kind of getting a jump on Fatboy Moore here.) Baldwin repeats this contention several times during the film, very impressively, too. With conviction, you might say.
All in all, this is a film that makes "Enemy of the State" look good. A clearer recommendation I cannot provide.
The plot of his script was simple. It was about an autistic boy named Simon who can read the secret codes embedded in crossword puzzles. In other words, he took a common urban myth and wrote a script about it. Not original, but certainly compelling. Add Bruce Willis to the mix and you have a big budget movie.
Then one day, his agent called. He was nervous. A major studio was offering a six figure number for the movie. When other movie studios heard about it, a war of escalation ensued. Soon, they were trying to outbid each other. The price kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
Finally, the agent had enough. The script was sold. Presumably, the scriptwriter got to stay married and pay off his rent. And, I hope, socked the money away into savings. Because this movie sucks.
The movie went through several title changes, a sure sign that there's a problem. It was originally supposed to be Simon Says, but the execs changed it because nobody knew what that meant. So they changed it to Mercury Rising instead. As Dr. Evil would say, "Riiiight."
There's a few problems. One of them is translating onto screen the depiction of code. Apparently, the movie decides code decryption sounds like a high-pitched whining sound. Perhaps it's an accurate parallel, but it's not fun to listen to.
Simon's autism is depicted a little too accurately. His parents are killed early on, so Simon's on his own and fairly incapable of doing much besides wailing his head off when touched. This is very accurate. This does not make for a pleasant movie.Read more ›
The film opens with a botched bank robbery in "South Dakota", of all places. Undercover agent Bruce pleads for more time so he can save two teen aged boys. This fails, and they are killed resisting arrest. (Could an agent really get this deeply involved?) [Does this allow latecomers to take seats and not miss anything?] Next comes the main plot. The autistic boy reads a puzzle magazine, and solves it in his head! This causes the murder of his parents, and the boy's narrow escape. The Chicago police are called, and Bruce gets his assignment: cover this case. He finds the hidden boy, takes him to a hospital. Now Bruce figures out that the boy is a target, and the rest of the story is how he tries to keep him alive until the happy ending.
The assassination of a code clerk on a busy street reminds me of Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent" or similar replicated scenes. The tale of "rogue agents out of control" was disproved by the Watergate hearings. These agents are never "out of control" until they're caught. Andrew Jackson said that government was not a necessary evil, only its abuses were evil. Is this still true?
Most recent customer reviews
Really happy to have this film on Blu-ray. It is one of the better Bruce Willis films made, IMHO!!Published on June 25 2011 by Stewie
I truly enjoyed this movie. In my opinion, this is one of Bruce Willis's best films.Published on Nov. 13 2009 by Norm Arteau
Bruce Willis returns in the role of a loose cannon, demoted by the FBI after a hostage situation goes tragically awry. Read morePublished on March 6 2004 by Michael Butts
one of Willis' softer more gentler side as he trys to save a young boys life from the evil clutches of the menacing Alec Baldwin. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2003 by Michael Bolts
Very good job of an exciting and different thriller. OK the kid is annoying at times, but the movie really is great. See it!Published on Sept. 12 2003
There is nothing very new about Mercury Rising but the standard ingredients are well assembled and the end product is professional and enjoyable. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by F. J. Harvey
I guess I'm not an intellectual, but I love it! It's one of those movies that I can watch over and over again (and have). Read morePublished on Aug. 2 2003
Mercury Rising is by no means a difficult film to watch, but for the intellectual veiwer there is little plausibilty or suspense in its foolish, by-the-numbers plot. Read morePublished on March 28 2003 by Mr. H. Walker
Yeah, it's an OK film, but there's nothing new in it at all. Willis plays the role of a gritty, tough cop who wins out in the end. Die Hard? Read morePublished on March 9 2003 by Ultimate Reviewer
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