Percy Vs Goliath stars Christopher Walken as Percy Schmeiser, Roberta Maxwell as his wife Louise, Zach Braff as attorney Jackson Weaver, Christina Ricci as environmental activist Rebecca Salcau and Adam Beach as Alton Kelly, the farmhand. It'll be in cinemas 10 June 2021.
Based on a true story, 70 year old Percy Schmeiser is a small-town third-generation farmer who is being sued by a corporate giant for allegedly using their patented seeds. With little resources, Percy joins forces with up-and-coming attorney Jackson Weaver and environmental activist Rebecca Salcau to fight one of the most monumental cases all the way to the Supreme Court.
A canola farmer in Bruno, Saskatchewan, Percy does things the old-fashioned way. Each year he plants the legacy seeds his family has saved over generations. He continues this time worn practice and collects his seeds from the previous year's harvest and plants them the next. Unlike other farmers, he does not buy the genetically modified, pesticide-resistant variety patented and sold by agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto.
When Monsanto investigators discover his crop contains the modified gene in 1998 which Percy claims is an accidental contamination from a neighbouring farm in 1997, they charge him for growing without a license. They want Percy to pay up for growing crops from seeds carrying genetic modifications that Monsanto developed to resist weedkiller chemicals and sued him for patent infringement. Local farmers jump on the bandwagon and heckle Percy and accuse him of stealing the same seeds they're obliged to pay for. Percy digs his heels in and gives them a run for their money with small-town lawyer Weaver; while Monsanto arm up with an arsenal of lawyers that seem to multiply as the case drags on. Percy faces down this formidable crew, led by actor Martin Donovan's well-played portrayal of a polite but ruthless Monsanto lawyer, Rick Aarons, in this landmark case which ends up representing the rights of farmers around the world.
A formulaic tale of the underdog and directed by actor-filmmaker Clark Johnson, Walken plays a salt-of-the-earth common man though there's nothing common about him. His magnetism still shines through regardless, even when he's not playing memorable characters with his signature eccentricities. However he does play his character as less savvy than the real Schmeiser, perhaps to pull on the emotional heartstrings a little more. Christina Ricci has the right mix as a perky, enthusiastic and slightly pushy environmental activist who is a bit of an opportunist. Her character is more layered as she manages to convey a sense of empathy while steadily pushing her agenda.
Braff's character on the other hand is pretty one-dimensional, who despite the seriousness of his role, manages a one-liner of comedy in the courtroom. Perhaps it's apt as this movie does not lean on courtroom tension for drama, nor is it its focus. It's a loosely fact-based film that doesn't represent the complex scientific, economic or legal situation. While well cast, with small but solid performances by Luke Kirby as Peter Schmeiser the son and Adam Beach the farmhand, this farmer drama is more about emotions than explanations and though enjoyable, unlikely to raise your pulse. If you're looking for some much-needed content the film could have done with, you could check out the 2009 similarly titled documentary David Vs Monsanto which digs deeper and stars the real Percy Schmeiser.