Eddie Jillette (Richard Gere) is an undercover cop who has been working in this garage in the hope their suspects will arrive, and they will be able to arrest them. When they do, a scrap ensues that sees the criminals’ vehicle with crashed after a ruckus in the car wash, and the hard drugs Jillette and his partner (Gary Basaraba) were seeking nowhere to be found, though they do find a large bag of grass. It's not enough, but they bring in the suspects anyway, whereupon one admits he has information they could want that will bring him more lenient treatment. In New Orleans, he has a contact who tells him he can make a lot of money by murdering someone for them...
So off go Jillette and his partner to The Big Easy, which may make you think of the actual film The Big Easy, but there the comparisons tended to stop as outside of the location, No Mercy was an attempt at making one of those neo noirs the nineteen-eighties were populated with, the difference being in the original forties versions, there was not so much neon, and the sex scenes were left to your imagination. Now, the romantic leads here were two of the hottest stars of the decade, Gere and Kim Basinger, and to match their onscreen relationship they had an affair offscreen as well, which may have you thinking this would be pretty steamy stuff, right? Well... no, to be honest, not really.
Despite the canoodling behind the scenes, there was a curious lack of chemistry in this that may have been down to the script, but also may have been thanks to Gere and Basinger's connection being of the holiday romance variety rather than anything that would last in a meaningful fashion. Therefore once they do get down to it and start breathlessly kissing in the humidity of the bayou (or whatever), they simply looked as if they were going through the motions, and for fans of erotic sequences the way they both insisted on doing everything fully-clothed, even, yes, that, tended to work against the overall effect to the extent it's little wonder this has been forgotten.
It was sort of an action thriller - there were action sequences at least, most notably at the inferno of a finale - sort of a romance across the divide, as Jillette meets Basinger's Michel Duval and they're drawn to one another despite their class and social differences. The main issue is that he believes she was instrumental in the death of his partner at her apartment, and she is a kept woman, kept by a real nasty, Losado played by Jeroen Krabbé who essentially stole the film from under the noses of the leading man and lady. Whenever he was in the scene, you paid attention, since he had proven himself the most charismatic character in this, not least because he had a habit of gutting folks he disapproved of with a special knife that looked as mean as its owner. But he needed to be in a better thriller.
Action and adventure movie villains of the eighties did have to stand out to be a formidable foe pitted against the hero, which had them quickly become cartoonish in order to make sense they would be a challenge to protagonists who may be fairly cartoonish in the first place. Perhaps that is where they went wrong: Gere's usual allure deserted him here, he simply came across as hot and bothered rather than hot and steamy, and his macho attitude merely landed as extreme grumpiness, so you had no idea why Michel was attracted to Jillette other than as a chance to get out of the iron grip of Losado. With interludes such as the one where the two leads were handcuffed together in an escape across the swamps a blatant and unnecessary lift from Alfred Hitchcock's version of The 39 Steps, there may have been a lot going on here, yet it never felt anything but insubstantial. Little wonder it became a late-night TV staple, perfect for dozing in front of if you couldn't be bothered dragging yourself to bed. Music by Alan Silvestri.