DIRECTOR: Destin Daniel Cretton (the glass castle)
STARRING: michael b. jordan, jamie foxx, brie larson and o'shea jackson jr.
REVIEWER: emily carter
World-renowned civil rights defence attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.
Based on a true story that still rings so true today, Just Mercy is undeniably eye-opening and infuriatingly frustrating, even in 2020.
After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson moves to Alabama to defend those wrongly convicted or those not given proper representation in court. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, a man charged with murdering an 18 year old white woman in 1987, despite evidence proving his innocence. As he waits on death row, Stevenson finds he has a battle defending this man within a racist and unjust system.
The fact that this was happening in the 90s is mind-boggling, and definitely leaves you pondering the existence of justice today. Racial privilege and naivety were the topic of discussion as Just Mercy made its mark on the audience - all as intended. But before we get into the depth of thought you'll find yourself in after watching Just Mercy, let's first give it it's credit as a film.
With a very standard narrative, Just Mercy is simple to follow yet also feels a little familiar. It feels long when watching it, but to me this positively plays into the absolute aching frustration you feel for the characters and the system they have to fight. Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson is emotive and simply wonderful, while Jamie Foxx's Walter McMillian equally as believable. The story is not overdramatic or over-the-top, giving space for you to pick up on some of the cracker lines and life lessons woven throughout.
Tim Blake Nelson as Ralph Myers was another standout performance and Rafe Spall as Tommy Chapman (the county's district attorney) is fittingly repulsive.
Without knowing the true story, I loved that I wasn't quite sure which way the story would swing. It became apparent that you couldn't depend on truth to bring the right outcome in this particular court system. While at its core, Just Mercy is a courtroom drama, you walk out thinking it was a lot more. You step out feeling like the story isn't over for many and this isn't just something stuck in the history books.
Just Mercy is moving, impacting and more than a little legal drama. Simple and hard-hitting in all the right places, it's a must-see.