Verdict: Just Mercy is a powerful and emotional movie backed by a solid cast.
Take a moment to ponder on this, “Down here…you’re guilty from the moment you’re born.” This dialogue by Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy is a reality for so many African Americans in America. The issue of racism continues to glaringly persist even to this day, and director Destin Daniel Cretton highlights one small subsection of the problem through a true story that concerns a wrongful conviction of Walter “Johnny D” McMillian.
What’s Just Mercy About:
Fresh out of Harvard, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) is an attorney who moves down to Alabama to defend falsely accused inmates who are on death row. Stevenson soon meets the convicted inmates who have been sentenced to death by an electric chair but have had no proper representation due to their race or social status. This is also when Stevenson meets Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) and realizes that Walter is facing execution for a crime he did not commit. Through his non-profit Equal Justice Initiative and with the help of his Operations Director Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), Stevenson begins to give hope and a fighting chance to the people who are forced to live in the shadows.
Michael B. Jordan is superbly convincing as a lawyer who is young, passionate, and genuinely looking to make a difference. It’s refreshing to watch a lawyer invest himself completely for the sake of his clients and their families. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Jonny D. is incredibly powerful. You can palpably feel his frustration of being labeled as a murderer by an all-white jury on the basis of one false testimony. You can’t help but sympathize with him and the countless others that we are unaware of. Just Mercy draws you into a harsh reality of darkness but also successfully brings out a story of hope, thanks to one man who decided to risk his life for the sake of overlooked individuals whose lives matter. Fact: Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative have saved over 125 men from the death penalty and continue to work on defending marginalized people from wrongful convictions.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The first half of Just Mercy lacks a sense of urgency and paces moderately to the climax. Having said that, it’s a film that has you gripped to the end.
Why You Should Watch:
Just Mercy is an impactful film about a story and an issue that needs to be highlighted throughout the world. Backed by an incredible star cast, this film will definitely leave its mark on you.