At the onset of the new millennium, Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) finds himself thrust into a seemingly unwinnable legal battle with the agricultural mega-corp, Monsanto. Based on the Monsanto Canada Inc v Schmeiser court case, Percy Vs. Goliath recounts the events Schmeiser and his family took to stand up for farmers across the globe.
As this film is told from the perspective of the Schmeiser family, naturally you can expect to root for the underdog throughout the entirety of the run time. Walken’s Percy, as naive as he may be, gives a strong, nuanced performance that encapsulates the sheer weight standing up for livelihood has. In contrast to Percy’s closed personality, Roberta Maxwell’s Louise Schmeiser provides the emotional core that is needed to fully relate with the couple. With every choice Percy makes, Louise explores how it affects their lives. While the story revolves around the Schmeisers, Zach Braff‘s Jackson Weaver and Christina Ricci’s Rebecca standout as notable highlights and help keep the narrative moving along.
The narrative here is probably the film’s greatest strength and biggest weakness. Adapting real life court room cases isn’t at all unique now a days so at times, it was difficult to invest in what was going on because you can predict how the story is going to end. That’s the difficult part of adapting court cases; they’re predictable and in some cases, dull. To help combat this, the cast makes sure to keep you emotionally involved (Walken, Maxwell), and keep the drama driving forward (Braff, Ricci). Without them, I’m afraid this film would have been fairly dull.
While it’s not much of a complaint, I do think that it would have been interesting if Director Clark Johnson and writers Garfield Lindsey Miller and Hilary Pryor would have put some of the focus of the film on the Monsanto perspective. While I see why they didn’t go in this direction, it could have given some depth to the one dimensional “big bad”. Again, not a complaint but more of a musing.
All in all, Percy Vs. Goliath is just that – a story about one man fighting against a giant. The story telling is fairly predictable due to it’s source material but the emotion and energy provided by the cast help keep the film moving along at a quick pace so you don’t get too bored with what is happening. If anything, the filmmakers give a new generation the opportunity to learn about a historic court case that changed the farming world forever.
Review – Percy Vs. Goliath
Reviewed online (screener provided by Rialto Distribution), June 13, 2021. Rating: PG. Running time: 99 minutes.
PRODUCTION: (AU) A Rialto Distribution release of a Scythia Films production in association with Inferno Pictures Inc. & May Street Productions. Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Ethan Lazar, Brendon Sawatzky, Ian Dimerman, Hilary Pryor and Garfield L. Miller. Executive producers: Kellon Akeem, Todd Berger, Deepak Kumar Bhagat, Andrew Chang-Sang, Mark Gingras, Beata Gutman, Mayur Hasija, John Hills, Kevin Hoiseth, Dwight Howard, Ryan Krivoshey, John Laing, Andy Marks, Alex Ordanis, William G. Santor, Matthew Shreder, Yandy Smith, Christopher Yurkovich.
CREW: Director: Clark Johnson. Writers: Hilary Pryor and Garfield L. Miller. Cinematography: Luc Montpellier. Editing: Maureen Grant, Geoff Ashenhurst, and Susan Maggi. Music: Steven MacKinnon
CAST: Christopher Walken, Roberta Maxwell, Christina Ricci, Zach Braff, Martin Donovan, Peter Stebbings, Luke Kirby.