Picks and Pans Review: No Mercy
Don't be fooled by the hot-paced first 15 minutes of this mystery thriller. Despite the fancy cast and New Orleans scenery, you are hurtling toward the abyss of pretension. Richard Gere—yes, the infamous star of King David, Cotton Club and Beyond the Limit—has found himself another expensive clinker. The only thing remotely interesting about his performance as a tough Chicago cop is that he looks older, plumper and more human than usual. Gere has come to New Orleans to track the killer of his cop buddy. His only lead is a gorgeous blonde—a heart-stopper, he calls her—played by Kim Basinger, one of the few still gainfully employed actresses who can almost match Gere's record for flops (Hard Country, The Man Who Loved Women, 9½ Weeks). While Basinger looks lovely (her lips may be the poutiest and most provocative in screen history), she is hopeless playing a Cajun sold into sex slavery as a child. Faced with torture and abuse, she never looks more than mildly miffed, like a yuppie who can't find the right shade of lip gloss at Bloomingdale's. Holland's Jeroen (The Fourth Man) Krabbe, eager to kill Gere for stealing his woman, plays the villain of the piece. But the real culprit is screenwriter Jim Carabatsos, who switches from unprintable vulgarity to jaw-dropping symbolic excess. We are meant to see Gere as a modern-day Orpheus descending into Hades to save his Eurydice. The final shoot-out, filmed like a surreal High Noon by director Richard (Country) Pearce, provides the film's only laughs, welcome if unintended. The phony-baloney set is the same one used to represent Chinatown in last year's major fiasco Year of the Dragon. Ah, memories. (R)
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