'''''Mercury Rising''''' is a 1998 [[{{Thriller}} action thriller]] film, based on the novel ''Simple Simon'' (1996) by Ryne Douglas Pearson. The novel was actually a sequel of ''October's Ghost'' (1994) and ''Capitol Punishment'' (1995) which both feature the main character Art Jefferson. Renamed "Art Jeffries" for the film. The film was directed by HaroldBecker, previously known for such films as ''Film/{{Malice}}'' (1993) and ''CityHall'' (1996). The main stars were Creator/BruceWillis, Creator/AlecBaldwin, and child actor Miko Hughes.

The novel was based on an [[UrbanLegends Urban Legend]]: "that secret military intelligence codes were sometimes leaked to the public in puzzle magazines to see if civilians could crack them." The film begins with a HostageSituation in South Dakota. FBIAgent Art Jeffries (Willis) is the ReverseMole within the villains' ranks. He is trying to convince the others to surrender while protecting a teenaged boy. However the FBI task force attacks and kills both the robbers and the boy. Art confronts his superior and ends up demoted. Further, his psychological evaluation reports him as suffering from "delusional paranoia".

Elsewhere, 9-year old Simon Lynch (Hughes), an [[UsefulNotes/HighFunctioningAutism Autistic]] IdiotSavant, manages to break the code in a puzzle magazine and finds a telephone number. Which he innocently decides to call. He has just, unwittingly, broken cryptographic code called "Mercury", created and used by the National Security Agency (NSA) since the UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan Administration (term 1981-1989). The code was allegedly so complex that its creators believed no computer on Earth can decipher it. But two of them, Dean Crandell (Robert Stanton) and Leo Pedranski (Bodhi Elfman), had decided to put this to the test. They had published the code in the magazine to see if anyone could solve it. Unfortunately for all involved, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Kudrow (Baldwin) sees the boy as a liability. He sends [[ProfessionalKiller Hitman]] Peter Burrell (Lindsey Lee Ginter) to take out Simon and his parents. He already has plans on how to deal with the security leak.

Burrell kills the parents but fails to locate Simon, who was hiding in a closet. The police and FBI briefly investigate the crime scene, though they incorrectly identify it as a murder-suicide. Jeffries locates Simon and takes the boy under his protection. However the boy is unable to explain what actually happened and the authorities are not particularly inclined to protect him. Jeffries is convinced that Simon is still in danger and takes matters into his own hands. Kudrow manipulates events to discredit Art and have him charged with kidnapping. Art has to crack the case, save Simon and protect his own reputation. He finds allies in fellow agent Thomas Jordan (Chi McBride) and friend Stacey Siebring (Creator/KimDickens). He also receives unexpected help by Emily Lang (Carrie Preston), the girlfriend of the already assassinated Pedranski.

The film was a modest box office hit, its worldwide gross estimated to 93,107,289 dollars. About 33 million of these dollars came from the United States market, where it was the 61st most successful film of its year. It received mostly negative reviews, dismissed as an uninspired action film with stock situations. Willis won a UsefulNotes/GoldenRaspberryAward as Worst Actor for three of his 1998 films: ''Film/{{Armageddon}}'' , ''Mercury Rising'' and ''Film/TheSiege''. On the other hand, Hughes was praised for his realistic depiction of autism and won a Young Artist award.

[[IThoughtThatWas No relation to]] ''Film/JupiterAscending''.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AndThisIsFor: Art to Kudrow, during their first meeting.
* BadassAndChildDuo: Art and Simon.
* BullyingADragon: Art trying to really piss off Kudrow on purpose, by ruining a sizable portion of his wine collection.
* CIAEvilFBIGood: The "NSA is Evil" variation of the Trope, represented by Kudrow and [[TheDragon Burrell]] (the NSA technicians involved in the plot are very innocent about the situation, even if they were the ones who created the whole mess). Though technically it's less the entire NSA, and more just Kudrow personally, since none of his superiors know what he is up to and he is really just trying to cover his own ass.
* DawsonCasting: Simon Lynch is supposed to be 9-years-old. He is played by 12-year-old Miko Hughes.
* DeathOfAThousandCuts: How Burrell dies--the explosion of various windows because of gunfire ends with him being peppered with dozens of shards which cut him to death. Also an aversion of SoftGlass.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Invoked to show how evil Kudrow is. He is more concerned and upset about losing a sizable portion of his wine collection when Art is trying to upset him than ordering the death of several people.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Kudrow, though he had been shot before falling off the building.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Kudrow. It says something when he's more concerned about his wine collection than killing an autistic kid.
* HollywoodAutism: Actually a not-too-unrealistic portrayal.
--> '''Jeffries.''' Autism... does that mean nothing gets through?
--> '''Nurse.''' No. It means ''everything'' gets through.
* IdiotSavant: Simon Lynch. Just to show to the audience how good he is, he is seen solving a jigsaw puzzle from the blank, reverse side. The term "savant" is actually used by the technicians to describe Simon's ability to (''instinctively'') break Mercury to Kudrow.
* NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist: Kudrow wished Simon dead because Simon can crack the Mercury code reflexively, and Mercury is not only the toughest code the NSA has, but also the one used by every single one of the spies that America currently has on assignment (so if an enemy power gets hold of Simon, it would risk the entire intelligence community). Kudrow ''tries'' to sell this to Art, but Art points out that Kudrow's unhesitating use of MurderIsTheBestSolution [[FauxAffablyEvil makes it very insincere]]. What Kudrow leaves out is that Mercury was also the project that got him in line for a cushy promotion and that he sold it to his superiors as completely unbreakable, so if it gets out that Mercury has been broken, it will be ''his'' head that will roll for it.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Lomax, Art's boss.
* ProfessionalKiller: Peter Burrell.
* PublicSecretMessage: After a very extensive formal test of the Mercury code labeled it as completely uncrackable, one of the NSA technicians published a message created with Mercury (which included a contact number) on a puzzles magazine. He tries to explain away that he was trying to check out if it was possible for it to remain uncrackable when tossed against puzzle experts and the occasional IdiotSavant, but Kudrow [[SurroundedByIdiots is quick to (quite angrily) point out that this publishing was done without his permission]].
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: As part of his EstablishingCharacterMoment, Kudrow labels Simon ([[IdiotSavant and others like him]]) "retards" during his tirade about how he didn't approved the publishing of a message with Mercury on a magazine.
* RareGuns: Burell's preference for expensive high-end foreign handguns becomes a plot point when Art points out during the initial investigation of Burrell's faked murder-suicide of Simon's parents why a low-wage worker would buy a $1500 dollar handgun just to kill himself and his family.
* RevealingCoverup: One autistic boy knows how to break your code, and has thus far only informed you that he knows it. Was trying to kill the entire family really the best solution they could come up with?
* TookALevelInBadass: While Art and Kudrow are duking it out on the roof, what does Simon do? He risks falling off the roof of the building just so he could hand Art his gun back.
* WouldHurtAChild: Neither Nicholas Kudrow, nor Peter Burrell find killing a child abhorrent.