“Mercenary Brothers” with Ethan Hawke is a film about the pandemic, religion, madness. And it is unclassifiable, like any work by Abel Ferrara.
The title of the original release, “Zeros and Ones” refers to binary, that system of “0s” and “1s” used in computer programming languages. What is Abel Ferrara referring to? To the twin brothers both played by Ethan Hawke, the hostage who calls for everything to be blown up or the soldier who travels through Rome at nightfall? Unless it's about the pandemic and its end…
J.J. arrives in Rome, where he criss-crosses the deserted streets due to – one imagines – confinement. He visits a woman – his brother’s ex – and her child. The gestures are strange, they kiss through their masks… which they end up removing. J.J. contemplates the Vatican, the statues, before continuing his wandering. Her brother, Justin, was kidnapped and tortured. In a video, he calls to destroy everything, talks about Jesus, about sacrifice.
But there is Ethan Hawke the fake actor who makes an appearance at the beginning and at the end of the feature film, talking about his experience, the script, what “Mercenary Brothers” means. And even if it does not enlighten us, the two moments are sympathetic. Because, what to understand from the feature film filmed as a kind of stolen documentary with its pixelated images, sometimes blurred, and always dark?
We can see in it an allegory on the pandemic, on this violence that it causes born in us, this loss of bearings and spontaneity. We can see there a reflection on religion, on resistance, on military action… In short, we will find there what we want to see there and that's good.
< li>Rating: 3.5 out of 5
- “Mercenary Brothers” is available digitally via Club illico and video-on-demand platforms from the 18 January.