December 10, 2023


MERCY ROAD (Blu-ray)
2023 / 86 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😼

Mercy Road starts with a bang, with protagonist Tom (Luke Bracy) jumping into his truck and speeding away. He’s got blood on his hands and is obviously distraught over an incident that just occurred. Little by little, the narrative puts some of the pieces together through urgent cell phone conversations…

…in a nutshell, Tom has just murdered the man who apparently took compromising photos of his teen daughter, Ruby (whom he’s unable to locate). That man also happens to be his ex-wife’s new husband, and she’s already called the cops, convinced Tom has abducted Ruby. While trying to elude the authorities, Tom also receives a series of calls from a mysterious man simply known as “The Associate” (Toby Jones), who coolly informs him that he has Ruby and she’ll die unless Tom complies with all of his demands.

Evoking the similarly-structured Locke (2014), Mercy Road takes place almost entirely within the confines of the truck, and for a while, the film creates quite a bit of tension, especially regarding its main character. With his short fuse and checkered past, we’re never quite certain if Tom is someone we should be rooting for. Depending on the viewer, Bracy’s performance is either grippingly intense or amusingly overwrought. But considering he’s practically the only on-screen character, he does an admirable job holding our attention as long as he does.

When yet-another Taylor Swift song pops up on the radio.
But once the setting's novelty wears off, the story is kind of a bumpy ride. At this point, Mercy Road can be viewed two ways: As a straight thriller, the film achieves ridiculous levels of implausibility. Conversely, if we distrust Tom from the get-go, then the ultimate outcome can be predicted within the first 30 minutes, especially with writer-director John Curren’s ambiguous touches - like Tom being briefly terrorized by a malevolent spider - and the surreal artifice of the dark, fog-bound setting. Either way, this story probably could have been just as effectively told in half the time.

While the obvious, sometimes heavy-handed attempts to keep the viewer guessing grow a little wearisome, Mercy Road earns points for trying something a little different with its basic premise. It’s also wonderfully atmospheric - almost like a horror film - with the creepy-ass spider scenes being one such example.

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