A Canadian farmer takes on a global giant agricultural corporation in a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court in the dramatic film Percy Vs. Goliath. Christopher Walken stars as Percy Schmeiser, a third-generation farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada who takes pride in being a seed saver, as he calls it, using his own seeds over and over again for each season’s crops. The trouble for Percy starts when the corporate giant Monsanto sues him claiming he used their patented seeds as part of his crop.
Not wanting to lose everything he’s grown and without many resources, Percy and his wife, Louise (Roberta Maxwell), decide to hire a young, up-and-coming lawyer named Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff) to represent him in court. As the case goes on and gains momentum, environmental activist Rebecca Salcau (Christina Ricci) also teams up with Percy to help him get media coverage and to help shine a spotlight on Monsanto’s true goals which appears to be to own the seed market for all the world’s farmers.
Mortgaging everything he owns and risking his family’s health and happiness, Percy’s unflinching determination to take on this massive fight ends up in the highest court.
Based on a true story, Percy Vs. Goliath is a classic underdog story that has above-average performances but, unfortunately, comes up short of being compelling and moving. Walken, best known for his larger-than-life and eccentric performances, tones down his dynamic energy and portrays Percy as a low-key, loving family man who’s also a bit of a reclusive. He plays Percy as a man who’s worked hard his whole life to be a successful farmer and is extremely proud of his “seed saver” style of farming, a style that was handed down to him over generations of his family.
Zach Braff delivers a solid performance as Weaver, Percy’s lawyer who at first advises the farmer to settle with the corporate giant fearing if he loses it could cost him his farm. Ultimately, he agrees to represent Percy in his legal fight with the behemoth. Braff portrays Weaver as a local small-town lawyer who never dreamed of having a client and case that would ever be this monumental and life-changing.
Christina Ricci seems miscast as Salcau, the activist who wants to help Percy in his fight while also harboring her own self-serving reasons for wanting to be part of the case. Ricci fails to bring any real sense of passion and drive to the role and comes across more like an annoying groupie than a true activist.
The biggest problem with Percy Vs. Goliath, however, is that it’s too low-key and laid back for its own good. It fails to get the audience emotionally connected to Percy and his fight. Though a worthwhile story that deserves to be told, the film is missing the dramatic tension it needs to be truly engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Directed By: Clark Johnson