JUST MERCY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Just Mercy is a film that is based on a true story that needed to be made, it has an important message. It also has some great performances by some heavy hitters like Jamie Foxx and amazing smaller roles such as the one played by Rob Morgan. However, it comes across a little bit more like a made-for-television film rather than a heart-wrenching film like 1999’s The Green Mile.
Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), who in the late 1980s, graduated from Harvard Law School. Instead of taking a high-paying gig with a fancy law firm, he decides to head to Alabama to work for next to nothing alongside Ava Ansley (Brie Larson) at the Equal Justice Initiative they started. Their first case is for a Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). He’s a family man and self-employed black businessman who was convicted and sentenced to death for the horrific murder of an 18-year-old young woman despite the utter lack of forensic evidence or motive. Walter’s conviction rested almost entirely on the sketchy eyewitness testimony of convicted felon Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson). Ralph had been threatened by the police with possible execution himself if he didn’t identify Walter as the Killer. Walters’ case, on the surface, looks like a no-brainer for a retrial. However, the police chief that put him behind bars in the first place is still in power and does not take kindly to Bryan opening up old wounds for the town.
Just Mercy will make you cry and cringe about our deeply flawed, socially unbalanced legal system. It shows that to this day, it often turns its back on persons of color who can’t afford the legal defense they deserve. When you watch the side story of Herbert Richardson (Rob Morgan), a real-life death row inmate and Vietnam veteran who was executed for killing someone while suffering from PTSD, I dare you not to be moved.
Despite all the good things Just Mercy has going for it, the by the numbers pacing of its storytelling slows it down. For this reason, I give it only a B rating. It’s still a solid film to catch, but it could have been great.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
Written by: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Selig Rating B
Running Time: 2hr 16min
Drama / Biography
Wide Release: January 10th
Starring: Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.