Starring: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis
Director: James Marsh
Running Time: 112 mins
The Mercy is a British film about the true story of a small-town man who aimed to become the fastest person to sail around the world without stopping, until the true gravity of the task became apparent to him.
On the one hand a historically interesting true story, yet on the other failing to tap into a more affecting emotional level, The Mercy isn’t the perfect biographical drama. Despite strong performances and moments of high drama, it’s not the deeply powerful story that it could potentially be.
Still, the true story that the film is based on is as remarkable as it is engaging. The screenplay cleverly plots the tale of a man embarking on an arduous round-the-world voyage as a blend of inspiring dreams, a tragic tale of reality, and the heartless world of the media.
The first two of those themes rely heavily on the film’s more emotional beats, ranging from the ambitions of an unassuming small-town man to the heartbreaking realities of a daunting feat.
In that, The Mercy rests on a rather striking sense of melancholy that, while superficially there, doesn’t quite hit home on a deeper level. As a result, the way that the film tries to really wrack you with a sense of fret and worry similar to those left on land watching the man’s fateful voyage just doesn’t have the intense power it really could.
Where the film really does hit home, however, is in its cynical portrayal of the media and those who seek to capitalise on any story, even when it takes a turn for the worse.
Embodied by David Thewlis’ character, who jumps at the opportunity to sensationalise the ‘drama’ as Rachel Weisz is left on land by her husband Colin Firth, The Mercy gives a scathing portrayal of parasitic media circuses, and the devastating impact they can have on the very story they’re reporting.
That element of the story is by far the most gripping, even if the screenplay doesn’t manage to bring in the more emotional themes as successfully. As a result, The Mercy is a bit of a mixed bag that’s interesting at times, but fails to live up to the intense drama that it tries to deliver throughout, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1 overall.