Mercy (2023) Review
Die Hard came out thirty-five years ago and we’re still seeing a steady stream of knock-offs rip-offs and cash-ins arriving. Case in point, Mercy, which like last year’s Assault on VA-33 puts a hospital under siege. Can the filmmakers deliver an entertaining action film, or is this, like so many other similar films, DOA?
While serving in Afghanistan Dr. Michelle Miller (Leah Gibson, Jessica Jones, The Christmas Note) had her husband turn up as a patient in her field hospital, worse he had a bomb strapped to him. This leads to an agonized, and agonizing, exchange of dialogue “Get out Michelle, somebody’s got to be there for Bobby!” “No, I’m not leaving you!” followed by Frank rolling off the table so his detonation somehow doesn’t kill her.
Now she works at Mercy Hospital and raises the soccer-obsessed Bobby (Anthony Bolognese, Altar, Christmas with the Darlings) as a single mother. In fact, he’s sitting in the waiting room now as she finishes up her paperwork before they go celebrate his birthday with dinner and tickets for the big game.
But that’s going to have to wait when F.B.I. Agent Ellis (Sebastien Roberts, Two Hands to Mouth, Hellraiser: Revelations) brings the badly injured Ryan Quinn (Anthony Konechny, The Unspoken, Love on the Slopes), a member of the infamous Quinn crime family to the hospital. A botched rescue attempt has left the other agents dead and Ryan with a pair of bullets in him courtesy of his brother Sean (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Disquiet, Ambush).
As a result, Sean and their father Patrick (Jon Voight, Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders, Anaconda) place the hospital under siege. Patrick wants his son out of the fed’s hands, Sean wants to make sure he can’t tell anyone the bullets he took were no accident. Now Dr. Miller is going to have to call on her non-medical training if she, Bobby or anyone else wants to get out alive.
Director Tony Dean Smith (Disappearance in Yellowstone, The Killer in the Guest House) and writer Alex Wright (Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, A Family Christmas Gift) know they don’t have the budget to stage wall-to-wall action and pyrotechnics. So they load Mercy up with conflict between the psychotic Sean who’s looking to take over and his father. Unfortunately, that tends to lead to lines like “Sean, would you please stop killing people?”
It doesn’t help that Patrick is another of those mythological mob bosses with morals and Voight is either incapable of, or unwilling to, deliver a performance that makes the character believable. Meyers on the other hand is perfectly convincing as Sean. Gibson tries her best but she’s stuck playing a heroine who is about as bland and undeveloped as a character can get. All we know about her is she served in Afghanistan and is traumatized as a result of one of those coincidences that only happen in badly written films.
And Mercy’s script leaves a lot to be desired. Mid film it goes as far as having the cops surrounding the hospital stop what they’re doing to salute Michelle as she runs across the roof. Make the score swell with patriotic music while the police make themselves into perfect targets and you have one of the dumbest scenes you’re likely to see this year.
To their credit, when Mercy does manage to work in an action scene Smith and stunt co-ordinator Dan Rizzuto (Boss Level, Skyscraper) do make them effective. But there’s not nearly enough of them to offset the problems with the script both in terms of believability and predictability. Is somebody else going to end up with a bomb strapped to them? Will Bobby be taken hostage? Will the Quinns’ interfamily issues be as big a threat to them as Michelle and the cops?
While it’s still better than the likes of Rogue Hostage, Mercy is still a far cry from the films it wants to emulate. Tony Dean Smith may have a good action film in him, but he’ll need a better script than this to make it.
Mercy is currently on release in select theatres via Paramount. It will be available digitally on May 19th, and on VOD Platforms on June 2nd. If you’re looking for more films like Mercy, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.