Mercy Rule


By: Addison Wylie

Mercy Rule is merciless.  The film does feature a restrained Kirk Cameron aiming to be more tolerable than he’s ever been before, but I’m just trying to find the silver lining within this family film that’s been conceived by blind incompetence.

Cameron is an actor devout to his personal beliefs, and has been known to carry those views through faith-based flicks.  I have to give credit where credit is due, and at least compliment Kirk for not hampering Mercy Rule with his own agenda.  His production company CamFam has made this movie, and the opportunity to spruce up this story with intuitive religious declaration is always present.  Thankfully, CamFam has decided to direct all its focus to making wholesome fare the entire family can enjoy.

The problem is Cameron, director Darren Doane, and screenwriter N.D Wilson are incredibly out of touch with family entertainment – even more so with what stimulates kids.  Would these men believe me?  Probably not.  So, a challenge: I incline these three to develop their own focus groups involving children.  They can pick the age demographic.  I believe that the kids will either fall asleep, cry, or whip out video gaming devices within the first twenty minutes.

It’s unbelievable how unaware Mercy Rule is to its own plodding dreariness.  The cast and crew are pumped up – smiling and laughing away – as the uninteresting story rolls along with each miscalculated, abrupt edit.  How can so many people be oblivious to how dull their movie is?  Were Doane and Wilson convinced a story about a ruthless lobbyist trying to tear down Eco-friendly do-gooder John Miller (Kirk Cameron) was going to enthral movie goers of all ages?

That’s the long and short of it, at least.  Miller’s family business is in danger when a slimy man in a suit starts slinging around threats.  Meanwhile, John’s son Cody plays little league set against bluegrass instrumentals.  Cody wants to pitch, but his coach doesn’t believe in him.  Wilson’s screenplay exhausts itself trying to find connections between John and Cody’s struggles.

The script insists that achingly long-winded dialoging is the key to telling a story.  When I picture the physicality of Mercy Rule’s screenplay, I imagine one of those bronzing, crumbling books from the 1700’s.  This would explain why every scene at the baseball diamond is souped up with an edgier appearance, equipped with post-production add-ons that try to swindle the audience into thinking that what they’re watching is exciting.  However, the pizazz Doane has slathered on can’t mask how mundane the games are.

Underneath all its rusty sloppiness, Mercy Rule did make me wish Kirk Cameron would take more risks as an actor.  It won’t happen since he seems comfortable with where his career rests, but I see potential in the guy.  There’s a scene where the greasy lobbyist is provoking John and Cameron reacts with passionate anger.  The film even goes as far as having John hastily pull out a baseball bat from his desk with the intention of slugging the suit.  Cameron’s legitimately scary without wanting to be, which is the fuel needed for darker roles.

Readers Comments (2)

  1. I can understand that you want to see a family movie with more excitement, but everyday life isn’t always full throttle, action-packed antics that make people throw their money out the car on their way to the theatre.

    As far as Kirk “not hampering Mercy Rule with his own agenda.” statement what agenda would that be? His faith in Jesus Christ?

    It’s interesting how other producers put in their own “agenda” and don’t get slammed for it, I guess when your appeal to the masses, you get celebrated.

    He didn’t miss the mark that he opens the movie with when he said “something fun, something exciting, something that builds our faith in God and our strength as a family.”

    If those aren’t the qualities you want to see in a film then I have a challenge for you: stay away from any film from the people at Provident, you may need to stick with film nour films.

    But seriously, if you don’t like the faith based films, why bother viewing them if only to try to trash them?

    • “But seriously, if you don’t like the faith based films, why bother viewing them if only to try to trash them?”

      That’s a fair question. It’s a question, I’m sure, lots of movie goers who appreciate faith-based films often ask when critics start slamming those specific works.

      The reason why those movies receive bad feedback is because some filmmakers can’t figure out their priorities. Instead of delivering a movie with a good story and convincing performances, they try and force inspiration. The thing is inspiration cannot be forced. It has to take a life on its own after competent writing has established a baseline for it.

      I also think Cameron still has greatness in his career. ‘Mercy Rule’ actually pointed Kirk in the right direction, and I think my review makes that clear. However, Cameron and Doane have to fully realize the audience they’re aiming for. The information is so dense in ‘Mercy Rule’ that I truly believe kids will have a hard time sitting through it.

      But, I won’t give up on Provident or any other faith-based movies. They’ve surprised me in the past (I urge you to read my positive review of ‘Heaven is for Real’). I would hate to miss out on another surprise.


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