A disaffected young man (Scott Eastwood) travels down to Mexico to escape his unpleasant home life, only to fall in with a private militia that is targeting the local cartels – but is there more to the gang than there first appears?
It doesn’t feel terribly fair to compare any artist with their parents, but the American thriller Mercury Plains (as directed by Charles Burmeister) certainly makes it difficult to ignore the fact that the lead actor is Clint Eastwood’s son. First of all, by sticking the name Eastwood in giant letters all over the advertising material, and secondly, by the fact that Scott Eastwood bears an almost eerie resemblance to his famous father. Additionally, the neo-western setting of Mercury Plains certainly isn’t too far removed from his father’s usual genre stomping grounds. If you enjoy Clint’s rather dour, steely-eyed acting method, you’ll probably find something to enjoy here.
Other than that, though, there really isn’t that much else to enjoy with this film. It’s a slow moving thriller that attempts to build a sense of tension and conflict, as Scott’s character Mitch is drawn further into the seedy world of the vigilantes and their leader, The Captain (Nick Chinlund). It’s going to be difficult for most audiences however, to be drawn into this conflict, as there just isn’t enough story to grab onto.
The Captain’s recruits are either children or young men with some variety of social handicap, making it difficult to ascertain why on earth Mitch remains with the gang after their more unpleasant side comes out. Whilst Chinlund’s character is reasonably charismatic (baring a few clunky lines), it’s not enough to justify the cult-like reverence that Mitch is supposed to feel towards him.
The other characters are underdeveloped, with most of their story-lines terminating in abrupt deaths before we get a feel as to who they are beyond the shallowest reading. Despite the rising menace we’re supposed to feel, there’s nothing going on under the surface – each character presents as exactly what they are, leaving the story feeling predictable as everyone fulfils their obvious roles.
This film was honestly hard to pay too much attention to. At 102 minutes, it feels too long.
Good points? It looks nice, though the early scenery is doing most of the work there. Eastwood’s performance is probably the most interesting thing about it – this may not be a great role for him, but you can see glimmerings of potential. It’d be nice to see him have a turn in a more interesting film.
Reviewed by Brendan Whittaker
Rating out of 10: 5
Mercury Plains will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 22 June 2016.