The thriller is one of those genres that I love seeing done at the independent level. The big studios’ concern is only about who stars in their thrillers. But, in indie movies, the thriller always comes off as a labor of love. This is particularly true for Thor Moreno’s Gods of No Mercy. Let me manage expectations for a moment, Gods of No Mercy is far from perfect, but there’s enough admiration for the genre to give it a passing grade.
Our lead protagonist is hitman/heavy Sonny (Marwan Gazali), AKA The Sparrow Man. He’s the guy you call when you want to end a relationship. One night, while hanging out with his current boss, the mobster Buster (Thor Moreno), Sonny is ordered to dance with Orion’s girlfriend, Cheyanne (Jacque Stroo), during his birthday dinner. A quick romance develops between Sonny and Cheyanne, and the two become a secret couple. But nothing ever stays a secret.
When Cheyanne goes missing, and a hit is put out on him, Sonny goes on the run to rescue his girl and take down anyone who’s after him. Once the hunter, Sonny is now the hunted. Old rivalries are resurrected, and a lot of blood is spilled.
“…the two become a secret couple. But nothing ever stays a secret.”
Let me stress again that Gods of No Mercy is a low-budget indie movie. A lot of the film’s shortcomings are easily forgivable—enough to enjoy the story. The acting is OK. As a thriller, it has the requisite amount of violence, torture, and double-crosses with an homage to film-noirs of the past. Sometimes a character will stand out in the open for a visually dramatic moment when he really should be taking cover.
To me, there’s one huge flaw that keeps the film from truly shining as a dark thriller. It’s all in character development. There’s just no depth to any of the characters at all. The movie has heroes and villains. Heroes are heroes because they do good things, or good things happen to them, and vice versa for villains.
The story is like winding up a bunch of toys and letting them run loose. Some characters live, and others die. The problem is I’m rarely ever emotionally invested in any of them. Sonny seems like a good and honorable hitman, but why is he good and honorable? He just is. This is where we need the backstory for all of the characters. Not much is required; we just need enough of a reason to root for or boo against them. Tease out little things that connect us with the characters, and engage audiences. I point this out because this is the reason when audiences say, “I didn’t care about the characters.” Make us care.
As long as you don’t take the film too seriously, you’ll find yourselves having fun with Gods of No Mercy.
"…the thriller always comes off as a labor of love."