The Theory of Everything director James Marsh sticks to his winning formula with another adaptation of true life tragedy that was Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth), a sailing enthusiast and entrepreneur who in 1968, took up the challenge to try and circumnavigate the globe without stopping. Not only was he risking his life, but also put his business and family home on the line. Having whipped up a PR storm as a plucky underdog with little sailing experience expected for a task of this magnitude, the pressure is surmountable for Donald to abandon or postpone his voyage as his boat is barely sea worthy, but his competitors have already made a head start. At the Mercy of the sea, solitude and his ailing vessel impact his mindset that lead him to make very difficult decisions.
Like Crowhurst’s ill fated voyage, The Mercy is it’s own disaster particularly in it’s approach in asserting a tone early on befitting to the tale but instead will lead most audiences with an emotional void. Giving the original release date was expected for early 2017, it’s clear that the edit has probably been a torrid affair. The build up to the voyage almost feels like a happy go lucky affair, scenes are not allowed to breathe thus the film’s sequence continuously feels choppy. Giving the real drama takes place on the boat, it should have been a given to pin the main focus on the film within those confinements but in the end it feels like Marsh doesn’t want to challenge the audience. Likewise the hardships his wife Clare (Rachel Weisz) had to endure with having to single handedly raising their two children without an income and not knowing whether her husband is still alive are significantly underplayed. The supporting cast of David Thewlis and Ken Stott are giving nothing to chew on, which in all leads The Mercy to being a TV film best placed on a Sunday evening on BBC One than in the cinema. Marsh has some credible work behind him, Man on Wire, Project Nim, but at the time I felt The Theory of Everything, despite it’s fanfare, was a mess devoid of cinematic appeal or an ability to actually say anything and The Mercy continues these trends but this time I doubt there’ll be much of a crowd giving it a rowdy round of applause.
In Cinemas from 9th of February 2018.