Thursday, 19 June 2014

Movie Review: No Mercy (1986)


A dim policeman's revenge thriller, No Mercy throws two photogenic stars into a swamp without a script.

Chicago police detective Eddie Jillette (Richard Gere) and his partner Joe (Gary Basaraba) pretend to be hitmen for hire to try and entrap the suave Paul Deveneux (Terry Kinney) and his apparent girlfriend Michel (Kim Basinger). Paul wants New Orleans gangster Losado (Jeroen Krabbé) dead, but Losado and his goons strike first, killing Paul with a rocket launcher and knifing Joe to death for good measure. It turns out that Michel is Losado's girl, and she may have led Paul and Joe into a deathtrap.

Eddie swears revenge, and heads to New Orleans. Through Paul's brother Allan (William Atherton) he tracks down Michel and abducts her to use as bait, unleashing Losado's fury. As Paul and Michel flee from Losado's marauding gang and fend off the local cops, they start a steamy romance before a final bloody climax in an empty hotel.

No Mercy has some good location shooting in the New Orleans area, and if anything director Richard Pearce overplays his hand by insisting that every shot feature a garish neon sign, a melancholy trumpet player, or old wooden structures lining picturesque streets.

And that's about all No Mercy has going for it. Richard Gere is most unconvincing as a tough cop bent on revenge. His dreamy eyes and wavy hair suggest a poet rather than a badass, and he never moves past uttering cliches. Basinger is the local beauty who insists that she is not a whore but rather a victim of being sold to Losado at a young age. It really doesn't matter: Michel remains an empty vessel, a blank woman to fight over for no good reason.

And despite a committed performance from Krabbé, Losado is evil just because he is evil, and the limp Jim Carabatsos script barely attempts to explain what kind of criminal activity Losado is involved in deep within the Louisiana bayous.

The action scenes are at the competence level of the Death Wish sequels, where dozens of heavily armed bad guys are routinely outsmarted by the one hero. The problem with No Mercy is that unlike most mindless action movies it actually takes itself seriously, but singularly lacks the talent to be anything other than painfully juvenile drivel.






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