Mercy Road Blu-ray Review

Director: John Curran
Cast: Luke Bracey, Toby Jones
Written by: John Curran, Jesse Heffring, Christopher Lee Pelletier
Release Date: 12/12/2023


         Any director bold enough to take on a film set in a single location should be commended, especially one essentially relying on a single actor to carry the narrative. Mercy Road follows in the tradition of movies like Locke or Buried, where an isolated character only has conversations on a cell phone to propel the plot forward. Unfortunately, while director John Curran may have been daring enough to attempt a similar feat, the filmmaking does not match his ambition.


        Just like Locke, Mercy Road is set almost entirely in a vehicle on the road, though it doesn’t have the advantage of Tom Hardy carrying the film. Beginning immediately after an unexplained and unseen violent incident, a frantic father named Tom (Luke Bracey) gets in his car and flees the location. While his direction is unclear, it slowly becomes apparent that his daughter Ruby (Martha Kate Morgan) may be in some sort of danger. The incident Tom is fleeing from is a violent reaction to a possible assault carried out against her, and he begins receiving calls on his cell phone from the authorities regarding his involvement.


        Tom also begins receiving calls from a stranger calling himself “The Associate” (Toby Jones), who has an unbelievable amount of knowledge about the events, while also claiming to have kidnapped Ruby. Tom is instructed to follow all The Associate’s instructions if he wants to protect Ruby, even as they become increasingly erratic. While Tom digs himself into more trouble with law enforcement as he attempts to save his daughter, questions about his sanity are raised.


        Despite the simplicity of the storyline, Mercy Road refuses to answer simple questions about what is real. Whether there is a supernatural element involved or Tom is simply an unreliable narrator who is losing his mind is unclear, apart from a few possible clues in the final moments. This ambiguity may be off-putting for viewers expecting a more traditional narrative. On the other hand, those cinephiles more accustomed to this approach are likely to be turned off by the film’s sloppy visual effects. Nearly all external images of the environment and moving car are created with computer generated imagery. While the opening title sequence implies this is an intentional stylized approach meant to recall B-films from cinema’s past, this is abandoned before long and begins to feel like budgetary constraints rather than artistic choices.


        The high-definition presentation of the Blu-ray release does little to enhance the low budget visuals, and there are no special features offered on the disc. The only extras to be found are an optional Spanish-language dubbing and subtitles in both English and Spanish.


Entertainment Value: 3/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10

Historical Significance:  1/10

Special Features: 0/10



Agus said...

I struggle to watch a film like this where I stare at a character that is busy talking through a phone the whole time. Thanks for review.

Anonymous said...

At times the acting was hard to watch without giggling. Pretty lame ending