April 30th, 2021
MOVIE: PERCY VS. GOLIATH
STARRING: CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, CHRISTINA RICCI, ZACH BRAFF, ROBERTA MAXWELL
DIRECTED BY: CLARK JOHNSON
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
It seems like the story of the little guy vs. the big guy is a natural fight for major industries. From the story of The Insider, Dark Waters, Promised Land, Erin Brokovich, and Fast Food Nation, if we pay attention long enough, there’s a story out there about how simple people are being taken down by the big corporations. Percy vs. Goliath is a Canadian film, set in early 1990’s in a small town of Saskatchewan, about a farmer named Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken), a man that had the guts to fight back against Monsanto when their GMO seeds were copyrighted by the agriculture company. It’s the little guy that has been a farmer his entire life and with all the odds against him, he was fighting against a multi-billion dollar organization, hoping to give power back to the farmers. Percy vs. Goliath is an intriguing story, about a man fighting tooth and nail to keep doing what he loves, but it’s also not enough drama to make for an exciting movie to watch. This is a nice story, just not the kind you turn into a movie.
An interesting point to be made about a movie of this caliber is that it’s been proven that stories where characters are involved in a search to get to the bottom of corrupt practices can be incredibly entertaining. Dark Waters is the more recent example of that, in Todd Hayne’s intriguing story of a man taking down chemical plants that contaminate water. It’s a movie of that kind which directors should strive for. Director Clark Johnson unfortunately settles for just telling the nuts and bolts details, where the product of Percy was tested by Monsanto, showing that his seeds had the same GMO in them, something they had a patent on, making all of his crops illegal. Typically, farmers would just settle with the big farming company, but for Percy it’s about more than that, it’s the tradition of his family farming and keeping their seeds as their own.
The sad part about Percy vs. Goliath is that everything involved, the direction, the screenplay by Garfield Lindsay Miller and Hilary Pryor, and the supporting cast have the best of intentions at heart. The second and third acts are where the narrative dives into the legal battle. Percy and his supportive wife Louise (Roberta Maxwell) seek the help of a lawyer, Zach Braff as the quiet and sweaty Jackson Weaver, as the voice advising Percy to settle. It’s not until Christina Ricci’s agriculture and GMO fighter Rebecca Salcau arrives into town where any of the characters breathe life into the story. With her help, she takes Percy on a road trip, alerting the world, media stations, and other farmers of his fight. The courtroom stuff is limited in scope, with the Canadian court’s ruling in favor of Monsanto, but Percy is in it for the long haul, and committed to taking it all the way to the supreme court. The climactic ending is even bobbled, leaving much to be desired.
Sadly, there’s just not enough dramatics in Percy vs. Goliath to be an engaging movie. I will say that Christopher Walken proves he has some gas in the acting tank, where his performance is nice, never overdoing it. It’s just that this fight is not the kind of thrilling narrative to turn into drama and I would once again argue that a story like this works better in a newspaper article. It’s not a complete disaster with Percy vs. Goliath, but taking down a giant should be more thrilling than this. This goes out with a whimper.
PERCY VS. GOLIATH IS IN SELECT THEATERS ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND APRIL 30TH
Written by: Leo Brady