Stephen King’s ‘Mr. Mercedes’: Review

And so begins a deadly contest of wits in this AT&T Audience Network series based on the Stephen King novel, “Mr. Mercedes.”

The cast of ATT&T Audience Network's screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel "Mr. Mercedes."

WASHINGTON, August 27, 2017 — Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) is your everyday madman yearning to get caught. In fact, his desire is so strong, Brady taunts retired Bridgton, Ohio, police detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) out of his comfortable, alcohol-drenched occupational hiatus in an effort to see his desire fulfilled.

Brendan Gleeson plays a troubled retired detective in “Mr. Mercedes.”

You see, Brady is a serial killer who rammed a stolen Mercedes Benz into a crowd of people waiting in line at a jobs fair. Sixteen died, including a young mother and baby.

The murder weapon in “Mr. Mercedes.”

Detective Hodges and his partner never closed the case.

But two years after the bloody incident, Hodges receives emails with taunting video attachments.

And so begins a deadly contest of wits in this AT&T Audience Network series based on the Stephen King novel, “Mr. Mercedes.”

In this story, Stephen King abandons the vampires, werewolves and demonic clowns for a more relatable and tangible monster: the neurosis that arises in the wake of idleness.

“Retirement messes with some people,” Hodges’ lustful neighbor Ida (Holland Taylor) tells him.

Detective Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) has a heart-to-heart conversation with his retired partner.

Even his former partner, detective Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) offers his pointed observations:

“You get up every day now knowing you didn’t catch that perp, close that case, didn’t speak up for that victim.

“Find a goal. Painting, model airplane… some fucking thing. I don’t want to go to your funeral in six months. They’ll make me a pallbearer, and you’re too fucking fat to carry. I’ll tweak my back and have to file for disability and end up where you are. And that will fucking blow.”

Meanwhile, Brady Hartsfield ekes out a modest living working at a small consumer electronics store. Although a computer genius, an ever-changing economy puts Brady’s job at risk.

Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) at work in his mother’s basement.

As the manager of Brain Buds, Anthony Frobisher (Robert Stanton), constantly reminds his underpaid and jaded younglings, who are prone to sassing the customers,

“Our bread and butter, our lifeline, is customer service. It’s the only thing that tethers us to survival… The future is fraught with uncertainty as the world continues to go digital. Electronics, DVDs – so much of what we sell will be obsolete in a heartbeat. My concern is that we’re not ready to surmount the enormous hurdles that lay ahead.”

He turns to Brady,

“My deeper concern runs to you. You’re… weird. I’m sorry. I wish I could find a softer term or something more clinical. But, frankly, sometimes you come across as just plain weird… You want more than your station? You have to dial that back to zero.”

Brady talks with his mom in “Mr. Mercedes.”

That is, to say the least, difficult for young Brady, who spends an inordinate amount of time in his sexual-abuser mom’s basement – “working.”

“There’s a saying,” she tells him, “A mother can only be as happy as her saddist child. You seem very sad to me, Brady. Almost angry, in fact… I won’t presume to understand your life. But my life – you’re it. You’re all I have. When I go to bed at night, I never know whether to be excited about what’s going on in that basement, or worried. I agonize, Brady, I agonize. Either you care about that or you don’t.”

He attempts to assuage her anxieties by presenting the fruit of his many-hours labor: a universal remote. The second version of a technological marvel he calls “Thing B.”

“Let’s just say it activates and deactivates almost anything I want… This is going to make us rich. Mom, a few more refinements, I’ll be selling the patent to the Pentagon. They’ll be fighting wars with it. They’ll be able to defuse or detonate bombs from miles away. It has microchips for brains. Soon, I’ll be able to control people’s smartphones with this… You don’t have to worry mom, I’m taking care of us in that basement.”

Both the cop and killer of this tale are in desperate search of a reason for being; ironically devoid of the hopefulness that filled the hearts of that unemployed throng who were murdered while waiting in line for a job.

“Mr. Mercedes” can be seen Wednesday evenings on AT&T’s Audience Network.

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