Mercy Streets (2000)

David A.R. White in Mercy Streets (2000)

Have Some Mercy

Having just been released from prison John (David A.R. White) is picked up by his old partner in crime Rome (Eric Roberts - The Cable Guy) who convinces him to do one more job despite John's wishes to go straight. But having accepted 50K John has second thoughts and decides to run in doing so losing the 50K down a drain and ending up with Rome hunting him down. With no where to go he heads to his estranged twin brother Jeremiah who is a man of the cloth but is haunted by an incident from his childhood. But when Rome shows up he takes Jeremiah instead of John forcing Jeremiah to act like his convict brother to do the job whilst John has to pretend to be Jeremiah.

One thing which really annoys me is when people rag on something for what it is which is the case of "Mercy Streets" because it is Christian cinema and surprise surprise people rag on it. It is like Man united supporters ragging on Liverpool FC despite the fact that they are playing beautiful football with lots of young players who will be in the England team. Anyway for Christian cinema "Mercy Streets" is surprisingly good and a cut above the normal. No it isn't a great movie and for the most it is obvious but director Jon Gunn brings to this movie a level of style and energy you don't tend to see in Christian cinema and proves that a movie can work without bad language or sex scenes.

Eric Roberts in Mercy Streets (2000)

Now lets be honest the first hour of "Mercy Streets" once we have the twins switching places is pretty obvious. As John finds himself in the religious shoes of Jeremiah and instantly tries to work a con finds something deeper whilst Jeremiah having to act a criminal finds himself being tempted. The set up to this moral conflict is obvious but I use the word moral because that is what this is more than a movie which bashes a religious message across. Sadly the final third of the movie from a narrative point of view falls apart which really is a shame as the first half is good.

What makes it good is firstly director Jon Gunn who brings a nice edge to the movie with some nice action scenes and a visual style which is between independent and mainstream with some creative use of slow motion and freeze frame. He also uses a decent soundtrack which makes this feel anything but a stuffy piece of Christian cinema. But he also shows that you can make an action thriller with out the need for the characters to swear every other line or end up in bed. He also embodies the movie with just the right amount of humour so that he gets that desired smile but never takes it too far into the realms of being cheesy.

But secondly we also have David A.R. White who is good at playing the twins and giving them mannerisms to differentiate between them. Yes you could say that as John he is not a bad ass but he gives him a reasonable edge which makes him entertaining rather than dangerous. Entertaining is definitely the words for Eric Roberts who has some great fun with intentionally fun lines and acting the bad ass as Rome.

What this all boils down to is that I will be the first to admit that "Mercy Streets" is not great cinema but it is better than most direct to video and TV movies thanks to the acting and the directing. So basically I am saying give "Mercy Streets" a go even if Christian cinema is not your thing as it will surprise you how effective it can be.