Producer: Charles Cooper Director: Tony Dean Smith Screenplay: Alex Wright Cast: Leah Gibson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Jon Voight, Anthony Konechny, Sebastian Roberts, Bobby Stewart and Anthony Bolognese Distributor: Paramount Global
The only distinction of this limp would-be thriller, a bargain-basement take on the “Die Hard” formula set in a hospital rather than a skyscraper, is the presence of veteran Jon Voight in a major role—that of the leader of an Irish mob family. Though it’s nice to see him still active in his mid-eighties, “Mercy” does not represent a major addition to his long résumé.
The real star is Leah Gibson, who plays Michelle, a doctor in a Seattle hospital. She suffered a traumatic loss while serving as a medic in Afghanistan: her wounded husband was brought to her for surgery, but the enemy had placed a bomb on him and it exploded, killing him and nearly her as well. Now she’s a single mother raising their son Bobby (Anthony Bolognese), who’s on hand as she finishes her shift; they’re planning to go out for his birthday dinner, and a soccer game afterward (he’s a big football fan, delighted with the ball he’s just gotten as a present).
These domestic plans are interrupted by the arrival of two men severely wounded in a gun battle. One is FBI Agent Ellis (Sebastian Ellis), who was among those escorting gangster Ryan Quinn (Anthony Konechny) to a holding facility. Their convoy was attacked by Ryan’s older brother Sean (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and his crew, killing many other agents. Sean quickly informs Quinn patriarch Patrick (Voight, sporting a thick accent), who speeds to the hospital from the gold course with the intent of taking charge. What he doesn’t know is that Ryan was actually shot, quite deliberately, by Sean. Talk about a dysfunctional family.
The Quinns and their gunmen invade the hospital, kill a few workers, and take others, and those in the waiting room, hostage as SWAT units surround the place. Among the hostages, of course, is Bobby, who becomes a person of special interest to Patrick and Sean as Michelle’s military training kicks in and she morphs into a one-woman warrior against the mobsters and their crew. The outcome is, of course, mandated by the rules of the genre.
This sort of tale needs to be expertly choreographed in order to generate the requisite suspense and excitement. Unfortunately, Tony Dean Smith’s direction is limp, Adam Sliwinski’s cinematography ragged, Shaun Lang’s editing lackadaisical, and Rich Walter’s score flat. The result is a film that is more likely to induce yawns than spike an adrenaline rush.
Gibson, moreover, makes a curiously pallid heroine, and while Bolognese is a cute kid, his amateurishness is accentuated by Lang’s habit of letting his reaction shots run on too long. Neither Konechny nor Roberts adds much energy to the proceedings. That can’t be said of Rhys-Meyers and Voight, both of whom go to the opposite extreme. Rhys-Meyers chews the scenery (which is itself drab in Patrick Acuna’s production design) maniacally, while Voight brings a trace of his old skill to Patrick, smoothly transitioning from false joviality (he’s a guy who lets his dog have a nip from his flask of Scotch, the “water of life” as he calls it) to nasty menace on a dime.
But of course he can’t elevate a cheapie like this from its grounding in utter mediocrity. Even John McClane couldn’t have saved “Mercy,” though at a mere eighty-five minutes it’s at least mercifully short.