Mercy Streets (2000), released on DVD on September 22, is a suspenseful crime drama and inspirational movie written and directed by John Gunn (Dandelion Dust, My Date with Drew).
Mercy Streets, the story of estranged twin brothers (both played by David A.R. White), is a gripping crime drama with an inspirational leaning which deals with love, hate, forgiveness, and reconciliation. In a twist of fate, each brother is thrown into the other's life and must learn — on the fly — what the other brother deals with in life.
John is a con man who wants to go legit but Rome just won't let him. Jeremiah is an aspiring priest/preacher who has much to learn about the real world and the woman he loves. A chance meeting brings out all the feelings of hate, betrayal, guilt, and resentment that each brother has tried unsuccessfully to come to terms with for many years.
As the movie begins, John is being released from prison, hopeful of going legit, getting a fresh start and never having to go back to prison. All those hopes are dashed as he is picked up by Rome, the con man who rescued him after his brother abandoned him for dead when he was 14 and nursed him back to health. But you will soon have no illusions about Rome (wonderfully played by Eric Roberts). Rome is hard not to like, but unfortunately we all learn very quickly that he is definitely not a nice man. It becomes very evident that he feels he owns John — lock, stock and barrel. Rome immediately tells John about the 'job' he has lined up for that very day — a con. They haven't even left the prison grounds before Rome lays this on him.
The scene cuts to his brother Jeremiah behind the pulpit at the church practicing for his first sermon coming up in a few days. He is trying very hard to do well. However, as he is preaching, his best friend, a police officer named Tex, falls asleep, and his beautiful girlfriend Samantha truly tries to appear encouraging despite the fact that the sermon is way too long and boring. Jeremiah lacks any real enthusiasm for life, or a deeper understanding of his topic. And unfortunately, he's not very knowledgeable about women either.
Both brothers' lives are about to change dramatically and although this is ultimately for the best, it is quite a wild ride getting there.
Mercy Streets is an inspirational movie and surprisingly well done. But is is also a very well-woven crime drama/thriller. This movie was refreshing since many "Christian" movies are not this well developed, nor do they generally have a well-known and superb cast.
I think one of the best things about this film is that although it is a Christian movie, the focus is on — like any other movie — making a movie that anyone would enjoy. John and Rome bring deep and dark elements to the story, although the underlying theme is upbeat and inspirational. It is really more about people's lives, and how forgiveness, understanding, and reconciliation can make a world of difference in anyone's life. You can take away a warm, encouraging, life-affirming feeling, or more if you wish. Mercy Streets has something for everyone.
I thoroughly enjoyed the cast of stars: Eric Roberts (Julia Roberts brother, a prolific and very accomplished actor), Stacy Keach (Micky Spillane's Mike Hammer, The Blue and the Gray, Prison Break, and more), David White, who has starred in many Christian films such as Hidden Secrets and The Moment After, and of course the beautiful Cynthia Watros (best know as Libby on Lost), and a terrific supporting cast. This movie would be worth watching even if it was a bad movie, just to see Eric Roberts in the part of Rome. He does an amazing job with this character, a charismatic, devious, intelligent, and volatile con man.
There are also some bonus features on the DVD. You can watch the movie with commentary, select scenes, and my favorite, "The Making of Mercy Streets" which is so much fun to watch I found myself laughing many times. It shows some of the very interesting tricks in cinematography and staging that they used in the movie.
Mercy Streets has no objectionable content, and would likely be deemed appropriate for most all family members or any audience, except maybe the youngest of children. I personally loved the film.
Video clips from the film are available at Sony Pictures.