Mercury Rising is a 1998 American political action thriller film starring Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin. Directed by Harold Becker, the movie is based on Ryne Douglas Pearson's 1996 novel originally published as Simple Simon. Willis plays Art Jeffries, an undercover FBI agent who protects a 9-year-old autistic boy who is targeted by government assassins after he cracks a top secret government code.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Harold Becker|
|Based on||Simple Simon|
by Ryne Douglas Pearson
|Music by||John Barry|
|Edited by||Peter Honess|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$93.1 million|
The film was released on April 3, 1998. It received mostly negative reviews.
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During a bank robbery hostage situation an undercover FBI agent Art Jeffries (Bruce Willis) attempts unsuccessfully to negotiate for more time to defuse the situation. The FBI storm the bank killing the robbers, but Jeffries cover is blown so he is given a boring desk job. A nine-year-old autistic savant named Simon Lynch (Miko Hughes) is given an adult puzzle book by his teacher, and deciphers a phone number in a numerical puzzle. It was published in the magazine by two National Security Agency code creators, Crandell and Pedranski, to see if anyone could decipher it. The code called "Mercury" is allegedly so complex that its creators believe no computer on Earth can decipher it. Simon phones the number and the NSA division chief, Lt. Colonel Nicholas Kudrow (Alec Baldwin) realises the boy's ability to decipher the code is a grave liability. He dispatches an assassin Peter Burrell to murder the boy and his parents, but Burrell fails to find Simon, and leaves at the sound of approaching sirens as the father called 911 before dying. Jeffries is sent to investigate and finds Simon hiding in his bedroom closet. Simon is taken to a Protection ward at the hospital, where Burrell tries to kill him but Jeffries saves Simon and flees with him. Jeffries is framed by the NSA as a kidnapper, but his best friend, fellow agent Tommy Jordan, knows that he is. Jeffries borrows Jordan's car and takes Simon back to his house. Simon again calls the telephone number written into the code and Jeffries is able to talk to Crandell and Pedranski. Crandell arranges a meeting via encoded e-mail at the Wrigley Building. The next morning Jeffries goes to the meeting, leaving Simon under the care of a woman in a coffee shop, Stacey Siebring, Jeffries meets Crandell who tells him about "Mercury" and Kudrow, but Burrell shoots Crandell before he can reveal everything. Jeffries returns to the coffee shop, and Stacey says she and Simon have become friends and Simon agrees. Jeffries and Simon then leave, but later in the middle of the night, Jeffries and Simon go to Stacey's house, asking for a place to stay. Stacey reluctantly agrees but tells Jeffries that she was going on a business trip to Des Moines to make the rent the next morning. Meanwhile, Pedranski, having learned Crandell's fate, also tries to reveal Kudrow's unlawful actions by writing letters on a typewriter: one to Jeffries and a carbon copy to the Senate Oversight Committee,. But Burrell finds Pedranski and murders him as well, and takes the letters. However, the assassin overlooks the carbon copies, which his girlfriend, NSA analyst Emily, takes to the FBI. Jordan discreetly arranges for her to meet with Jeffries to show them both the carbon paper of the letter, which, being covered in Pedranski's fingerprints, is crucial evidence. After the meeting Jeffries gives Stacey Jordan's number in case of an emergency. Jeffries goes to Kudrow’s home during his birthday party, and demands that Kudrow annonce on national TV that the Mercury Encryption Project is a failure. Jordan, under Jeffries' suggestion, arranges for Simon to go into Witness Protection. After the meeting, Jeffries calls Jordan, who explains that the Witness Protection meeting is going to happen, though they are unaware that their conversation is being monitored by Kudrow. When Jeffries returns and finds Stacey and Simon gone, he learns from Jordan that they are not in any danger and will meet them at a pick-up point, just as Jordan is given an order to head to the FBI director's office. There Kudrow tries to have FBI SAC (Special Agent in Charge) Lomax help turn the tables on Jeffries by using his authority and the fact that Jordan arranged the Witness Protection under false pretences. He tells them that the NSA is taking over the protection program. After Kudrow leaves, Jordan shows the carbon paper evidence to Lomax and confirms that the fingerprint markings on it were Pedranski's, now fully validating the evidence against Kudrow. Jeffries, with Jordan and an FBI task force's help, sets a trap at the meeting spot. During the battle, Jordan protects Stacey, and the FBI team takes on Burrell, who is killed trying to escape. Jeffries and Kudrow fight on the roof, but Simon walks to the edge of the roof and gets Kudrow's gun, giving it to Jeffries. In a last-ditch effort, Kudrow grabs Simon, but is shot at point blank range by Jeffries, and falls to his death over the edge of the building. Jeffries later visits Simon (now living with foster parents) at his school. He embraces the FBI agent as a welcome friend, having finally accepted him as a person he trusts.
- Bruce Willis as Special Agent Art Jeffries
- Alec Baldwin as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Kudrow
- Miko Hughes as Simon Lynch
- Chi McBride as Special Agent Tommy Jordan
- Kim Dickens as Stacey Siebring
- John Carroll Lynch as Martin Lynch
- Kelley Hazen as Jenny Lynch
- L. L. Ginter as Peter Burrell
- Robert Stanton as Dean Crandell
- Bodhi Elfman as Leo Pedranski
- Kevin Conway as Special Agent-in-Charge Joe Lomax
- Carrie Preston as Emily Lang
- Peter Stormare as Shayes
- John Doman as Supervisor Hartley
- Richard Riehle as Edgar Halstrom
- Jack Conley as Detective Jack Nichols
Bruce Willis received the 1999 Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actor for his performance (as well as for Armageddon and The Siege). Miko Hughes won the category of Best Performance in a Feature Film—Leading Young Actor at the 1999 Young Artist Awards for his portrayal of Simon.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a score of 17% based on reviews from 35 critics with an average rating of 4.2/10. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, writing: "Mercury Rising is about the most sophisticated cryptographic system known to man, and about characters considerably denser than anyone in the audience. Sitting in the dark, our minds idly playing with the plot, we figure out what they should do, how they should do it, and why they should do it, while the characters on the screen strain helplessly against the requirements of the formula." James Berardinelli rated it one and a half out of four stars, saying: "The script for Mercury Rising is exceptionally tiresome and hard-to-swallow. ... Once again, certain standby plot elements -- the high-level government conspiracy and the maverick law enforcement agent -- are recycled, and not to good effect. While Bruce Willis can play the action hero as well as anyone in Hollywood, this particular outing leaves him marooned in situations that are characterized by too little tension and too much nonsense."
The film earned $10,104,715 in its opening weekend in 2,386 theaters. Altogether, the film grossed $32,935,289 in the United States and $60,172,000 internationally for a total of $93,107,289.
- "Mercury Rising (movie details)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- "Mercury Rising". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- "Mercury Rising". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
- Mercury Rising :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews
- Mercury Rising - A Film Review by James Berardinelli