Its an unsettling real-life story about a small man taking on a huge corporation. And while not as knock-down, drag-out sexy as a different big-screen contest,"Godzilla vs. Kong," the straight-forward courtroom drama, "Percy vs. Goliath" still packs a punch.
A Canadian farmer by the name of Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) was taken to court by the giant agrichemical corporation, Monsanto in 1997, for patent infringement. He used their weed-killing product, Round Up, on his crops, and when his seeds and entire yield were genetically modified by these chemicals, Monsanto claimed that they were in fact, their seeds, since they owned the patent on the genetically-altered seeds. They tried to squeeze Schmeiser for money, but he fought back against all odds, hiring an unpolished attorney (Zach Braff) to represent him, and gaining the backing of a young environmentalist (Christina Ricci) along the way, who helped throw a spotlight on the case and in turn, expose the shady Monsanto practices to the world at large.
The movie feels over-simplified and watered-down, but Walken plays the farmer quite effectively as a man swept up in something much greater than just his court battle. Many documentaries have been made over the past decade that discuss, in much greater detail and at much further length, about how Monsanto has basically used patents and genetically-altered seeds to take over smaller farms and farmers who were unwilling to buy directly from Monsanto. For example, in a real-life case, patented seeds were driven up and down the border of a farmland, and allowed to blow all over a farmer's land...when those seeds began to grow, Monsanto would step in and claim that the farmer did not have permission to grow their seeds. It's quite an evil practice, and the real Percy Schmeiser (who died in October of 2020) was a very important figure in exposing some of these dastardly deeds.
There have been several underdog courtroom dramas made more effective and emotionally resonant than this one, but "Percy vs. Goliath" is still worth a watch, especially if you aren't sure that you remember the outcome of the case.
Genre: Drama, Biography.
Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes.
Starring: Christopher Walken, Roberta Maxwell, Zach Braff, Adam Beach, Luke Kirby, Martin Donovan, Andrea del Campo, Christina Ricci.
Directed by Clark Johnson ("Juanita," "The Sentinel," "S.W.A.T.").
"Percy vs. Goliath" is available on Friday, April 30th, 2021.
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