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Movie Review

Separated by a freak accident at age 14, twin orphaned brothers John and Jeremiah have grown up radically different. Jeremiah seeks God’s will and goes to seminary to become an Episcopal priest; John travels the dark pathways of crime—and ends up in jail. John does his time and exits prison intent on turning over a new leaf, but intentions turn to dust when his mentor in lawlessness and father figure (Rome) convinces him to pull one last con job. If that weren’t dangerous enough, a botched double-cross and a disastrous case of mistaken identities strands each of the dueling brothers in the other’s world. John poses as Jeremiah, dating his girlfriend and donning his collar. Meanwhile, the hoods who mistakenly abducted the priest expect him to complete a counterfeiting scam in his brother’s place. When eventually the identical siblings cross paths, they come face to face, not just with each other, but with the larger issues of bitterness, purpose, calling, redemption and God’s plan.

positive elements: Character issues abound, principally that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. A dark secret finds the brothers at odds which, as details unfold, introduces matters of forgiveness, redemption, personal sacrifice and the need to leave guilt at the feet of Jesus. A scene between John and his brother’s girlfriend shows just how deeply someone can be hurt by thoughtless comments (James 3). Ultimately, the film showcases the negative fallout of doing wrong for the "right" reason while presenting several theologically accurate accounts about God’s saving grace.

spiritual content: Jeremiah’s police officer friend Tex shares how Jesus pulled him from a life of sin. In the pulpit, Jeremiah practices delivering a sermon on the genealogy of Christ before his wife Sam and Tex. Respecting the office of pastor, Tex offers constructive criticism in an effort to improve his style. When John explains to Rome how God has a plan for everyone’s life, Rome retorts with theological questions about God’s ultimate control that could make for interesting post-viewing discussion. Hurting and searching to once again recommit his life to God and ministry after brutally beating a man, Jeremiah encounters a minister who offers solid, biblical guidance (he motions toward a cross and explains that life’s answers are found there). John prays for his brother who ultimately is mentored by Tex.

sexual content: One lusty glance. Rome’s sidekick in crime ogles a woman crossing the street. Jeremiah uses the distraction to escape his vehicle.

violent content: Violence is why the MPAA assigned Mercy Streets a PG-13 rating. When Rome opens his car’s trunk, the cameras reveal a murder victim who has been stuffed inside (a bloody arm is shown briefly). To set up a con, John puts a steak knife to another man’s throat to test him. Jeremiah’s girlfriend slaps John. While John seeks a better life, Jeremiah backslides and nearly murders a man with his fists. Both brothers wind up in a punching brawl. A "shootout" scene featuring plenty of "blood" is revealed as fake and part of a scam that utilizes props.

crude or profane language: Several crude expressions ("you suck") and one angry, "Go to hell."

drug and alcohol content: Sam and John share a glass of wine. John’s prodigal lifestyle includes smoking.

conclusion: Give Mercy Streets credit for being intelligently scripted and unpredictably plotted. The characters—even minor players—are interesting and likable, thanks to smart casting, credible performances and inspired direction. It takes an intimidating villain to sell this kind of crime drama. Eric Roberts (Pope of Greenwich Village, Runaway Train) is equal to the task. And David A.R. White deftly handles the dual role of John and Jeremiah. This movie has modest goals. And it achieves them. Viewers expecting John to recite the sinner’s prayer by the end credits will be disappointed, but that unforced realism is part of Mercy Streets’ appeal.

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David White as the twin brothers John and Jeremiah; Eric Roberts as Rome; Cynthia Watros as Sam; Shiek Mahmud-Bey as Tex; Lawrence Taylor as Dan; Robert Lasardo as TJ; Stacey Keach as Tom


Jon Gunn ( )


Providence Entertainment



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Bob Waliszewski Bob Smithouser

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