Colin Firth shines as always in The Mercy, but even he can’t redeem the choppy editing in this man-vs-nature thriller [Review]

Colin Firth shines as always in The Mercy, but even he can’t redeem the choppy editing in this man-vs-nature thriller [Review]

An amateur sailor sets out to complete an impossible challenge of sailing around the world without stopping

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Firth plays Donald Crowhurst, an inventor who sets out to sail around the world.
Photo: Bravo Pictures Limited

The Mercy tells the dramatic story of an amateur sailor setting out to complete an impossible challenge of sailing around the world without stopping.

Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) is a plucky inventor living an average life with his wife and three children in the south of England. He hears about a round-the-world sailing race that promises a cash prize, fame and fortune for the winner. With no previous ocean sailing experience and his family-run business on the line, he sets sail on his home-made craft.


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But this is no heroic underdog story, and what follows is a dramatic tale as Crowhurst realises he doesn’t stand a chance in the open waters of the Southern Ocean.

The pace in the first half of the film is quite off-putting, seeming to cut frequently from scene to scene. The pace of the editing feels like it doesn’t follow a particular beat and becomes tiring after a while.

The editing is also non-linear in parts of the film, with jumps backwards and forwards in time. In some places this is effective, but in others it removes from the sense of isolation. The out-of-pace opening doesn’t help to ramp up the tension and leaves the rest of the film on a weak foundation.


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Where The Mercy really excels is towards the end, where Crowhurt’s deteriorating mental state is portrayed brilliantly on screen, with a dramatic conclusion.

Another of the film’s biggest draws is Firth himself, who rarely disappoints and pulls out some interesting performances here.

Overall, a dramatic ending and great acting in The Mercy are let down by poor editing decisions and a weak opening.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

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