Mercury Rising is a 1998 spy film.
10 out of 10 stars. This is not your typical spy film. In this film, the spies are the bad guys and they’re trying to kill an autistic kid for breaking their unbreakable code.
First let me mention why this kid actor looks familiar. He played Gage Creed in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Of course then he was blond and about three years old. And everyone knows Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin.
The film begins with an undercover FBI agent in a hostage situation with a bunch of hillbillies. Art Jeffries is undercover as one of them and is about to get them to surrender when the FBI charge in and kill everyone. He mouths off to the supervisor and almost gets put on a leave of absence again. Instead he is given tape duty. All of those audiotapes from wiretaps have to be listened to.
Meanwhile 9 year old Simon Wells comes home from school. For a few hours each day he attends an autistic school which helps him manage in day to day life and makes it easier on his parents. Routine is important. He gets off the bus, walks in the door, and has a hot cocoa every day. His mom is a stay-at-home mom waiting for him. On this particular day he gets a new puzzle magazine and decrypts an encoded puzzle inside the magazine. The decrypted message is the phone number for NSA’s cyber defense system called Mercury. Mercury protects the identities of every spy and every informant for the CIA. The software engineers who wrote Mercury, Dean and Leo, answer the phone and are shocked to discover a 9 year old autistic kid on the other end. They report it to their boss, Division Chief Nick Kudrow, not realizing the nightmare they are about to unleash. Kudrow has paid millions of dollars from the defense budget for this software. They can’t just scrap it. So he orders a hit on Simon and his parents.
Simon is in his room when a man comes to the door and talks his way inside. He kills Simon’s mom, dad, and then begins looking for Simon. He can’t find him. And the neighbors get suspicious and call 911. Jeffries is the FBI agent put in charge of finding the missing Wells kid Simon. In less than five minutes he finds him hiding in a crawl space behind the wall.
Jeffries puts Simon in protective custody at the hospital, but when he goes to question Simon, the cop is gone, protective custody has been removed, and Simon has been moved to a new room. He arrives at the same time as the hit man from NSA. He gets to Simon before the hit man and they escape in an ambulance with the hit man chasing them. Jeffries eventually crashes and Simon steps in front of a commuter train. Jeffries barely saves him then they get on a commuter train where a second hit man comes after them. Jeffries knocks him off the train. Then they go to Jeffries’ partner Jordan’s house.
Jeffries borrows Jordan’s car and goes to Simon’s home trying to recreate what happened. Simon isn’t like regular kids. He can’t just tell Jeffries what happened. Simon goes to his room, sees the puzzle book, decrypts the puzzle, and calls the NSA number again. This time Jeffries grabs the phone and demands to know who’s on the other end. He says this is the FBI and we’ve traced this number. Dean says not this number. This number can’t be traced. He tells Jeffries they can’t talk over the phone and gives him an email address to contact him. The message is encoded, but Simon decodes it: Meet me tomorrow noon Wrigley Building.
The next day he takes Simon to a coffee shop across the street from the Wrigley Building and asks a woman, Stacy Sebring, to watch Simon for a few minutes. She agrees. Jeffries meets Dean in front of the Wrigley Building. Dean tells him everything and is about to hand him something when he is shot by the hit man and falls dead. Jeffries chases him but he gets away, so Jeffries gets the surveillance camera footage from a nearby building that shows the hit man shooting Dean. He gives that video to Jordan to find out who the hit man is and who he works for. Jordan discovers he’s former special forces and died years ago. This is what they do with spies’ identities.
He goes to pick up Simon and hours have gone by. Stacy still has Simon and Jeffries thanks her. But later than evening Jeffries goes to her house and asks her to give them shelter. She does.
Leo learns that Dean has been murdered. He and his girlfriend find an old typewriter to type up a letter to the Senate Oversight Committee in charge of the Mercury funding. The letter tells the entire story and Nick Kudrow’s murder of the Wells family as well as Dean. Leo is murdered in his apartment before he can mail the letter. His girlfriend finds the carbon from the letter and reprints it then gives the letter to Jeffries because Leo told her his name.
Jordan arranges protective custody for Simon while Jeffries flies to Washington D.C. to confront Nick Kudrow with the letter. Kudrow tells Jeffries that code protects all of their informants and their spy network. Jeffries gives him 36 hours to get his people safe then he’s exposing the letter. Instead, Kudrow arranges another hit on Jeffries.
The NSA takes over the protective custody of Simon and plans on killing him, but Jeffries arrives with Jordan and an entire FBI team in time. Kudrow is killed. Simon is safe.
As the film ends Jeffries and Stacy are dating and she’s waiting in the car while he goes into Simon’s classroom to give him a gift.
10 out of 10 stars. The NSA is pretty scary. They would totally kill an entire family. Scary, isn’t it?