Film Critic Matt Taylor is enamoured with Annihilation, the second directorial effort from Alex Garland, and Netflix's latest exclusiveWritten by Redbrick Film on 20th March 2018
Review: The Mercy
Film Critic Todd Waugh Ambridge refuses to go down with The Mercy, true-story-sailing-biopic starring Colin Firth, the proverbial ship in this metaphor
The true story of Donald Crowhurst, one of the most infamous pieces of sailing lore, is one that can resonate with anyone. A wide-eyed man, full of ambition, optimism and determination, is forced to face the reality of his choices and reckon with his own humanity against the forces of both the natural world and his own inner turmoil. It’s the sort of timeless tale that can be (and has been) told and retold. Directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), The Mercy is the first British big-screen adaptation of Crowhurst’s story, and with national treasure Colin Firth in the leading role this should be an instant classic. It isn’t.
Donald Crowhurst (Firth) is a novice inventor and amateur sailor who leads a happy, but unfulfilling, life with his wife Clare (Weisz) and three children in Teignmouth, Devon. When the opportunity to become the first sailor to circumnavigate the world without stopping comes in the form of a contest with a huge cash prize, Crowhurst decides he can no longer sit around while everyone else has the adventures.
“With national treasure Colin Firth in the leading role this should be an instant classic. It isn’t
The problem with The Mercy is that it's just nowhere near as good as it should be. For a story as timeless as this – for a character as intriguing and complex – there's not a lot to show for it. It seems that instead of making an interesting character study concerning the volatile nature of ambition, Marsh chose instead to get his all-star cast to act out a Wikipedia article. In Scott Z. Burns’ screenplay, all the important points are hit, most without enthusiasm and none dwelled upon. The film is disappointing to the point of frustration. The majority of the cast and crew have put in their best.
“Instead of making an interesting character study concerning the volatile nature of ambition, Marsh chose instead to get his all-star cast to act out a Wikipedia article
Unfortunately, there’s not much else to say about the film. Marsh has proven, as he did with The Theory of Everything, that he is the director to call if you want to take an inspiring, beautiful story and turn it into a boring, forgettable slog. Ultimately, it says something that during its emotional climax, my attention was preoccupied with a far more interesting continuity error taking place behind the lead actress. I really wanted to care, but I just didn’t.
Verdict: Like his film The Theory of Everything, James Marsh’s The Mercy is a solid adaptation but nothing more. The cast are brilliant, and there is some great cinematography on show, but the film is let down by a script and direction that touches everything but feels nothing.