Mercury Plains Reviews
The desolate Mexican desert is shot beautifully. It provides the perfect backdrop for Mitch's journey for self -- it often feels like the desert goes on and on without clear landmarks to orient yourself, which for Mitch, is a lot what his life looks like at this point in time.
Without spoiling too much, just know that this character is a fascinating one. Though he'd have Mitch believe they're very much alike, he's more accurately a foil: The Captain is one to wax poetic, while Mitch would rather stand back, observe, and listen. Mitch displays an inner noble need to help people, even if he doesn't always know how to express it, whereas The Captain says he has the boys' best interest at heart, but...well, you'll just have to watch and see.
It's not an out-and-out actioner, it's not TAKEN, and it's not your typical shoot 'em up western pic either -- it's not trying to be any of those. The Eastwood name and the modern western setting may lead to you to believe it's going to be a certain kind of film, but if you allow yourself to experience it at its own pace, what you'll find is the story of a lost boy -- a young man wandering the desert, adrift in life -- who's handed a gun and given a mission, which forces him to reassess his own values and what's important to him.
The movie's methodical pace is a reflection of Mitch's own approach to life, an approach that by the end is jarred loose and shaken to its core -- the best action sequences of the film build and explode as we near the finish line. His journey raises questions of ambition and power, of self-identity, of mob mentality -- all of which he has to face down and wrestle with himself.
MERCURY PLAINS takes its time, embraces the slow burn, and bucks the trends of its genre. So if you like your western action flicks with a little more meat on the bones, you should give this one a shot.
The plot is fairly bare bones: a young 20something down on his luck, Mitch (Scott Eastwood), crosses the border from Texas to Mexico out of nothing more than boredom, and winds up getting entangled in a group of lost boys who've been taken in by a Fagin-esque leader, "The Captain," a middle-aged vet who uses his ragtag band to carry out vigilante hits on various drug runners and cartel branches. At first, Mitch is enticed by The Captain's promise of money and claim that something special lies inside of Mitch -- something no one else can see. To the completely lost man-child without a father figure, this serves as motivation to keep Mitch serving as The Captain's "top soldier," even as the group quickly devolves into pure criminal violence and bloody greed. By the end, Mitch is forced to find his own ethical code, something to dictate his sense of self-preservation vs. self-worth.
There is a lot at play here, talk of soldiers and kings and the ownership of territory, that all resonate deeply within our current climate of urban gang warfare and political fear-mongering and appetite for vigilante justice. Eastwood doesn't yet have the gruff gravitas and charisma of his famous father, but he shoulders the movie well, displaying a screen presence that belies his inexperience. The original score is haunting and beautiful, and the cinematography captures desolate landscapes and car chases with equal elegance. If you give yourself time to breathe with this film and meander along at its contemplative tempo, I think you'll appreciate its aim to be something more than just another shoot-out in the desert.