Mercury Rising

Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Harold Becker (Director)
Running Time 106:51 minutes Other Extras Featurette, Making Of - Watch the "Mercury Rising" (37:48)
Deleted Scenes (8:41)
Production Photographs - 49
Production Notes
Cast & Crew Biographies
Universal Web Links
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (69:53)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Harold Becker

Columbia Tristar
Starring Bruce Willis
Alec Baldwin
Miko Hughes
Chi McBride
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music John Barry

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes, one very annoying scene
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired

Plot Synopsis

    Mercury Rising is built around a concept which I found quite fascinating, even though the execution of the concept tended to stretch credulity at times. A new government supercode is broken, unknowingly, by a nine-year-old autistic boy. A message to ring a specific phone number is planted, encoded, in a publically available puzzle book. Simon (Miko Hughes) reads the message and rings the number. This causes great consternation at the National Security Agency, as they have just spent two billion dollars developing this new code. In particular, it causes great consternation for Nicholas Kudrow (Alec Baldwin), the ruthless head of the NSA. He orders the boy to be killed and all traces of any connection between the NSA and the boy to be erased.

    The boy escapes execution by apparently escaping, but his parents do not.

    Art Jeffries (Bruce Willis) is an FBI agent who is assigned to look into the escape of Simon. He finds Simon, and gradually discovers that this is no simple murder-suicide.

    The strength of this piece is in the quality of its characterizations (except for Alec Baldwin). You can overlook the technical implausibilities and the odd gaping plot hole because the characters are all so believable. For once in a movie, the special effects act to enhance the drama of the piece rather than being the centerpiece of the movie.

Transfer Quality


    Warner Advanced Media Operations were responsible for the compression of this disc.

    This is an excellent transfer, and falls just shy of reference quality.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was very sharp and very clear at all times. Shadow detail was excellent, and there was no low level noise apparent.

    The colours were unusually rendered, with quite a harsh steely blue appearance throughout the majority of the movie. This is offset by the odd splash of vibrant colour, such as in the street carnival scene.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. The only film-to-video artefact that I noticed was some aliasing during a few of the shots of venetian blinds and other similar objects which shimmered in a minor fashion. There was perhaps a little more of this artefact than I would have liked, and I have marked this transfer down slightly because of this. Film artefacts went unnoticed.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed during Chapter 22, at 69:53. Unlike most layer changes, this one is very well placed and causes minimal disruption to the flow of the movie.


    This soundtrack is meticulously crafted, and also just falls shy of reference quality.

    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are eight audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (labelled to the player and on the menus incorrectly as Polish), and an English Audio Commentary track encoded as Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the English Audio Commentary tracks.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by John Barry is suited to the on-screen action, complementing the drama nicely, without being outstanding in any particular way.

    The surround channels were aggressively used to support the action sequences, and much use was made of directionalized special effects. Of particular note with the sound design of this movie was the fact that sounds moved around the soundfield to match the perspective presented by the on-screen action. During action sequences, a very immersive soundfield was created, but this tended to collapse down to centre mono when quiet indoor scenes were taking place.

    The .1 channel was used aggressively to support the action sequences.


    There is a very good selection of extras on this disc.


    The menu design is themed around the movie, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Making-Of Featurette - Watch the "Mercury Rising" (37:48)

    This is a passable Making-Of style featurette, presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio and with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound. Worth watching once.

Audio Commentary - Harold Becker (Director)

    This is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround). It is merely an average commentary, with some useful insights into the making of the movie, but not one of the best commentaries I have ever heard. Worth at least a single listen through.

Deleted Scenes - 8:41

    These are presented in the poor video and audio quality that is typical for such extras. Note that this comment is not meant to be a criticism, since I find these scenes to be generally fascinating to watch. These ones have "PROP OF IMAGINE" emblazoned across the bottom of the frame in very large lettering, which is very distracting. The presentation is in 2.35:1 non-16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. There is no accompanying audio commentary.

Production Photographs - 49

    This is a gallery of stills, displayed for 8 seconds each, though you can step through them faster if you wish.

Production Notes

    In the usual Universal style, these are extensive and easy-to-read.

Cast & Crew Biographies

Theatrical Trailer

Universal Web Links

R4 vs R1

    There are three versions of this disc in Region 1; a more-or-less featureless Dolby Digital version, a featureless DTS version, and a feature-packed Collector's Edition.

    Comparing the features on the Region 1 Collector's Edition to the features on our version of this disc, the Region 1 version appears to miss out on;

    There is no compelling reason to prefer any one particular version of this movie, though the featureless Region 1 Dolby Digital version is clearly one to avoid.


    Mercury Rising is a movie I liked more than most critics apparently did.

    The video quality is almost reference quality.

    The audio quality is almost reference quality.

    The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
6th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer