Everybody loves a good underdog story, and “Percy vs. Goliath” is counting on it. The theme of one farmer’s fight against big agriculture is one that’s been done many times before, but this standard-issue (and ultimately forgettable) drama is elevated by Christopher Walken‘s lead performance.
Based on a true story, the film focuses on small town canola producer turned international folk hero Percy Schmeiser (Walken), a third-generation farmer from Saskatchewan. Percy was sued in the late 90s by food manufacturing giants for using patented Monsanto genetically modified seeds without a license. The big screen version starts on Percy’s farm and covers everything from his lawyering up with attorney Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff) and environmental activist Rebecca Salcau (Christina Ricci), to his eventual appearance before the Supreme Court of Canada.
The script is tight but dull, and screenwriters Garfield Lindsay Miller and Hilary Pryor assume prior knowledge for the true incident. It will help if viewers have a brief background and overview of the history on which the film is based.
Everything here is very heavy-handed too, decidedly one-sided and sympathetic towards Percy (as you’d expect). Once the legal battle begins, the film picks up a little steam, but it eventually succumbs to the been there, done that school of film making. The story is stale and feels boring and dry, but director Clark Johnson mostly succeeds in keeping things interesting enough to fill the film’s runtime.
The film barely scratches the surface on the impact Schmeiser has had on farmers’ rights, but it presents a solid springboard for those who wish to learn more about his significance in the agriculture world.
By: Louisa Moore