Here’s what the critics make of Colin Firth’s new movie ‘The Mercy’

The drama is based on the true story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst's attempt to complete the 1968 Golden Globe Race, and hide his failure

The first reviews for Colin Firth‘s new movie, The Mercy, are in.

The drama, which arrives in cinemas in the UK today (February 9), is based on the true story of Donald Crowhurst. In 1968, the amateur sailor attempted to complete the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, but gave fake reports of his progress. He died before the race ended, and is believed to have jumped overboard. 

Directed by James Marsh, the movie also stars Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, and Mark Gatiss. At the time of writing, it has a 76 percent score on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Initial reviews suggest a mixed response to the film, with many praising Firth’s performance. “Colin Firth is interesting casting as Crowhurst,” wrote The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw. “He is very good at suggesting the man’s decency and likability as well as his perfectly genuine courage and ingenuity.”

Flick Filosopher‘s MaryAnn Johnson added that the actor’s turn “is subtle, unflinching, extraordinary.” Larushka Ivan-Zadeh of Metro did not agree, however, describing Firth as being “all at sea”.

Kevin Maher of The Times gave The Mercy a two-star review, writing: “How they got the Donald Crowhurst story wrong is its own minor tragedy […] The film repeatedly pulls its punches, and can’t decide whether it pities or despises Crowhurst.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Dalton, meanwhile, described the biopic as “uninspired” and “an anodyne middlebrow weepie”.

Earlier this year, Firth joined the growing number of actors distancing themselves from Woody Allen, saying he wouldn’t work with the controversial director again.

He appeared in Allen’s 2013 film Magic In The Moonlight, but rebuked the filmmaker in a statement following Dylan Farrow’s televised interview reiterating her accusations that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old. Allen denied the allegations at the time and issued a fresh denial last month, accusing the Farrow family of “cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation.”