On Your Mark
Cloudy, With a Chance Of Mayhem
Gods Who Fall
The Suicide Hour
People in the Rain
From The Ashes
Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream
Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner
More often than not, when it comes to Stephen King adaptations they’re usually really good or really bad. Thankfully, Mr Mercedes is a well crafted, enjoyable thriller from start to finish, even if it is a little slow paced during the halfway point of the series. With a dual focus on the two excellent lead characters, culprit Brady (Harry Treadaway) and ex Detective Bull Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) indulge in a fascinating game of cat and mouse that comes to its head in a satisfying conclusive end.
The story opens with a group of people huddled together in the dead of night awaiting a job fair opening. Several minutes later, the bright headlights of a stolen Mercedes pierce the darkness. With most of the people half asleep and groggy, the car charges through the crowd, killing 16 and injuring dozens more. Among the deceased are the elderly and a mother and her beast-feeding baby. The shocking, gut wrenching opening helps to give Mr Mercedes an unremorseful, no-holds-barred feel.
This is one series that doesn’t shy away the subject matter, embracing King’s material with delicious glee. After this short prologue, the story officially picks up 2 years later. Detective Bill Hodges, the lead investigator in the Mercedes case, is now retired from police work with the unresolved case haunting him. A strange message on Bill’s computer reignites the chase for the culprit though and what follows is a cat and mouse game as both Bill and Brady attempt to outsmart and out manoeuvre one another. The balance of power constantly shifts throughout the show making it a particularly enthralling thriller.
Unlike other mysteries and thrillers that focus on a “who done it?” to drive the narrative forward, Mr Mercedes takes an alternate approach. We know who’s done it but the question circling the show is why Brady’s targeted the ex Detective and more importantly, whether he will be caught. As the series progresses, we learn more about both characters as they’re given an equal amount of screen time to look into their present and past lives. Brady has a particularly rough past and his unhinged, detached outlook on life is explanation for some of his actions. An incestuous relationship with his mother and suffering physical and mental abuse as a child, Brady’s cold persona is explored in agonising detail, making Mr Mercedes all the stronger for it. The age old technique of show, don’t tell is used perfectly here too and whilst there is still exposition, its not as heavy handed as other shows, instead using flashbacks and brilliant acting to drive the story forward.
Technically, Mr Mercedes is really well done. Despite a dip in action and a slowed pace stretch during the middle episodes, this 10 episode thriller boasts good camera work throughout that accentuates the brilliant acting. The soundtrack is good too, with numerous scenes graced by melodic rock tracks full of heavy guitar riffs. This upbeat musical score juxtaposes nicely with the hard hitting, dark tone. The subject matter is oftentimes adult and gut wrenching, meaning some people will find the subject matter too offensive to continue.
Overall, Mr Mercedes is one Stephen King adaptation that’s done right. It stays pretty faithful to the subject material, with well paced, interesting episodes that work to drive the narrative forward whilst exploring more about the character’s past. Some of the episodes are more action packed than others, with the middle portion of the series particularly slow paced before the pacing picks up for the explosive finale that brings the story to a close. The acting is brilliant throughout and accompanied by a script that works on driving the narrative forward, Mr Mercedes is one thriller that’s well worth a watch.