MERCY – Review
There isn’t much mercy in MERCY but there is a lot of action and stunt in this crime thriller set in a hospital, starring Leah Gibson (Jessica Jones), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Vikings) and Jon Voight (Coming Home).
Leah Gibson plays a surgeon at Mercy hospital, a former military doctor in the Afghanistan War, who finds herself caught in difficult spot when the wounded son of an Irish mafia leader (Jon Voight) is brought to her hospital, and the Irish mafia seize control of the hospital. As the mafia head and his hot-headed son (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) battle FBI agents guarding the wounded man, the doctor finds herself, and her young son, caught in the crossfire, forcing her to call upon her battlefield past.
There is a DIE HARD vibe to MERCY but a little TAKEN too, as this ex-military doctor has a “special set of skills” besides in the operating room, skills these criminals aren’t expecting. That is no spoiler, since the film gives away that history early on.
And that is part of MERCY’s problem. While the action thriller has a talented supporting cast in bad guys Jon Voight and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and the delight of a strong female action protagonist in Leah Gibson, the script gives away too much too soon. Director Tony Dean Smith does not help by doing little to build suspense, although the potential is there. Still, there are plenty of thrilling martial arts action scenes featuring Gibson, who trained as a dancer and really has some moves, but early on we get a flashback to Afghanistan that lets us know this hard-working female doctor is more than a widowed mother hoping to take a day off to spend with her young son on his birthday. After further flashbacks tells us she is a decorated sharpshooter too, we are not surprised she is a crack shot, although the bad guys are pretty taken aback by that discovery. Time and again, the script tips us off to the good doctor’s other skills before we get to see them in action.
But the real point of MERCY is the action. And the action sequences are good, with some thrilling martial arts work in the hospital corridors and stairwells. The action is kicked off with a nice, thrilling shoot-out car chase. An array of criminal henchmen are there to be picked off as this action-er unspools, and an internal divide in the Irish mafia gang, with a sibling conflict that dad Jon Voight is unaware of, gives dad and son Rhys Meyers different goals, adds to the tension.
Jon Voight and Jonathan Rhys Meyer do their best to breath life into their underwritten bad guy characters. A lot of that burden falls on Rhys Meyer, in his larger role playing the loose-cannon son that his father Voight is always trying to rein in. Rhys Meyer’s character is violent and slightly crazy and his motivations don’t always completely make sense, but the actor does well menacing hostages in the hospital and the doctor, while directing his loyal gang of odd-character criminals in a hunt for the wounded brother.
MERCY delivers a series of action confrontations as Voight and Rhys Meyers separately hunt the wounded brother, while the doctor, other staff and FBI try to hide him, a cat-and-mouse game that whittles down the participants on both sides.
If you are just looking for fast and bloody action thriller, with clear good guy – bad guy lines and a kick-ass female hero, MERCY will fit that bill, as long as you aren’t looking also for plot surprises or character depth, or much mercy. But this thriller with a female doctor with a military background as a protagonist had potential to be a more suspenseful film, with a script that had taken a different approach to the idea. As is, it largely wastes the talents of Jonathan Rhys Meyer and Jon Voight in a script that just mechanically moves from one fight scene to the next without the suspense and character depth it could have had.
MERCY opens Friday, May 19, in select theaters and on digital, and will be available On Demand on June 2.
RATING: 2 out of 4 stars