“Just Mercy” stars Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, and Brie Larson. Released on December 25, 2019, the film is about a defense attorney who takes the case of a man who is wrongfully imprisoned.
The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who also directed “Short Term 12” and “The Glass Castle”. It is based on the book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson. It’s always frustrating when you’re arrested for a crime you didn’t actually commit. What makes it even more frustrating is that the reason for the arrest is the color of your skin. It’s no surprise that Hollywood still wants us to stop repeating the events that happened in the past, especially the ones that involve race, which is why we still keep getting films like this. This legal drama showcases another trial that involves an African-American man who is wrongfully accused of harming (or in this case, murdering) a white woman. Like “1917”, this is another film that was released in a small amount of theaters on Christmas Day in order to compete in this year’s awards season. Sadly, it wasn’t able to earn any nominations at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, but who cares? It’s still an important movie for me to go check out.
The story chronicles one of the trial cases that defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) tackled, in which he is tasked to defend Walter McMillian (Foxx), an African-American man who is falsely arrested for the murder of a white woman and is sentenced to death. With the support of his friend Eva Ansley (Larson) and McMillian’s family, Stevenson works against the clock to prove his innocence before he receives his unnecessary punishment. This film reminded me of another legal drama, “Marshall”, in terms of its plot because they both involve fighting against racial injustice. “Just Mercy” offered a more personal and emotional approach on how people manipulated the justice system based on race and class in the Southern part of the United States, especially those who are supposed to honor it. It’s the “To Kill the Mockingbird” for the modern age. This is a frustrating and disgusting situation that is still going on today, and the film didn’t pull any punches in showcasing it. It’s the type of film that plays with your emotions rather than forcing them down your throat. There were some happy scenes, some depressing scenes, and scenes that make you want to punch these stupid people in the face. Destin Daniel Cretton was able to successfully balance these emotions and deliver an inspiring and complex drama about courage, determination, and the search for equal justice in terms of his direction and his screenplay. If you’re wondering how many times I cried while watching this film, I’ll give you a hint: it’s more than once. That’s how I knew that the film works in more ways than one. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx were fantastic in their roles as Bryan Stevenson and Walter McMillian respectively. It’s great to see that Jordan is still going strong since his breakout debut in “Fruitvale Station”, and Foxx still proves that he has talent both on stage and on the screen. I have a feeling that their incredible performances might get overshadowed by some of the other award-worthy actors and actresses during the Oscars, including Joaquin Phoenix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do manage to earn the nomination slots for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor during Monday’s announcements. Brie Larson also turned in a solid performance as Eva, a mother who helps Stevenson with his case, which isn’t too surprising since she’s a remarkable actress in her other works outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What I liked about these types of dramas is that they showcase the qualities of a person that we all want to be deep down inside, especially during the time where people mistreat one another based on the color of their skin. They didn’t take any shortcuts whatsoever. They understood the complications of this scenario and represented them in an honest light. “Just Mercy” is no exception when it comes to Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson didn’t become an attorney to earn money. He became an attorney to make a difference, to help people in a time of need, and to address social injustice. That’s what makes him a great person overall, both on screen and in real life.
Overall, “Just Mercy” is a powerful and riveting perspective on a real-life injustice. This is another thought-provoking and well-acted drama that serves as a call to action to make sure that everyone deserves mercy, whether they’re black, white, rich, or poor. With its strong cast, a confident director, and its complex script, the film is an emotional roller coaster with a relatable message. A great way for me to end another awards season with a bang. If you’re a fan of these types of dramas, this film is definitely worth checking out.