Christopher Walken stars as a Saskatchewan farmer, Percy Schmeiser, in Clark Johnson‘s Percy. The screenplay, written by Garfield L. Miller and Hilary Pryor based on a real-life legal battle in the late 1990s, is an outright story about David against Goliath. The alternate title Percy Vs. Goliath even takes this notion to the next level. Percy is the David and the agrochemical corporation, Monsanto, is the Goliath.
Percy, like his father and grandfathers before him, has been a canola farmer for generations. His method is always the same: taking the finest seeds from previous harvests for the next season. That’s why he’s more baffled than surprised when, out of a sudden, Monsanto sued him for illegally using their genetically modified canola seeds. To him, it’s a helluva accusation; but, he’s unflinching. When the corporation takes him to court, he stands up and fights for his innocence—even when everyone, including the townie lawyer, Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff), told him that it’s a fight he can’t win.
The nature of this case soon attracts an anti-genetically modified organism activist, Rebecca Salcau (Christina Ricci). She supports Percy relentlessly, although she often seems to pursue her agenda in the process. Ricci‘s character might seem like an oddity, but the script makes a smooth move to insert her into the prolonged legal battle. Her presence emphasizes the story’s stance on the opposite end of the GMO corporation.
Percy doesn’t appear to be an extravagant or flashingly bold legal thriller. The film’s soul roots on the ground with a clichéd direction by Johnson. However, its repetitive pattern manages to capture the resilience that becomes the story’s DNA. The threats from Monsanto are so constant and unwavering that the unseen force almost seems one-dimensional. And yet, given the number of facts that this story holds, it’s hard to ignore the corporate’s blind greed in this matter. At least, that’s how the story gets covered from Percy Schmeiser’s perspective.
Walken single-handedly keeps Percy afloat. His character would travel around the globe to advocate the freedom of farming while he’s fighting his ordeal. The veteran actor’s remarkable performance brings out fear and anger; while at the same time fleshes out the stake that Percy might have to endure if he loses the battle. Percy might have fought for the farm that gives life to his family; but, what if he’s become disillusioned by the fight and forget the true nature of his fight? Walken‘s soft-spoken words only make this irony feel bitter.
In the end, Percy is a lo-fi legal drama that brings out the spirit of resilience against capitalism. The story of David against Goliath might sound like a cliché at times. However, it never loses its charm. Thanks to Walken‘s committed performance.
Percy is available to stream on Mola TV.