Percy vs Goliath seems like a story from a forgotten period. Percy (Chrisopher Walken) is in a fight against a company that wants to copyright the crop the farmer has grown. For his part, Percy just wants compensation. As it turns out, GMOs have forcibly inserted themselves into the crops. The incident is not from some long lost era, but takes place in 1998.
Told in the right way, this has the potential to be a very interesting story. As the title suggests, Percy vs Goliath is about the little guy taking a stand. Cinema is filled with underdog stories since they tend to be so popular. In order for this type of film to work, audiences need to care about the characters. Walken gives his normal solid performance as the eponymous lead. Percy carries himself with a quiet dignity. Yet, it always feels like something is missing. This may well be a realistic portrayal of the actual Percy Schmeiser, but it makes for an uninteresting character at times.
Despite the title and premise, the film is not about a lengthy court battle. Instead, it is more about Percy’s stand for farmers’ rights. This is a wise decision as the courtroom scenes end up being dry. There is a natural excitement in seeing a normal person doing battle with big business in front of judges. It is not conveyed in Percy vs Goliath, however.
The legal battles are not given any gravitas and are instead presented as what they are: two parties arguing over ownership. It simply is not exciting, especially since Percy vs Goliath decides to play the whole thing low key. The impact of Percy’s work comes across much better. The once aloof farmer who shied away from the limelight ends up becoming the face of a movement. It was never his intention – and it becomes even less appealing when the community that once loved him begins to shun him. But it also further illustrates the difficulty of one person taking on the system.
Percy vs Goliath will be in select theaters, on demand, and on digital April 30
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