Monday, January 13, 2020

Just Mercy - Movie Review

The Movie: Just Mercy

The Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

The Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Rob Morgan, Darrell Britt-Gibson

The Story: World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.

The Review:
This movie which is based on actual events, reminds me a lot of A Time To Kill and follows a very similar story telling formula although with some obvious differences. While Matthew McConaughey played a fictional character pulled from John Grisham's best selling novel, Michael B. Jordan takes on real life attorney and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. The two characters have so many similarities, watching this movie makes me wonder if Grisham drew inspiration for his novel from Stevenson's real life exploits.

While watching the movie, I felt like director Destin Daniel Cretton was following a step by step film making playbook and, while there were some decent emotional beats, the end result could have been so much more impactful. The actors on board for this project are really what kept me engaged from beginning to end. Michael B. Jordan continues to establish himself as a major Hollywood player while Jamie Foxx turns in another stellar dramatic performance and I also have to say that Rob Morgan nearly steals the show as a fellow death row inmate.

What's important about this movie is the message. The institutional racism in America's justice system is on full display and it's petty disgusting to watch, especially knowing this is a true story. There is one particular scenes where Jordan's character is intimidated and humiliated by officers for no reason other than their amusement and there's nothing he can do about it. It's an emotionally crushing moment in the movie and speaks right to the heart of hate and racism.

The Verdict:
Just Mercy is a good movie and tells an important story it just fell short in a few key areas leaving me wanting a lot more emotional punch than the film makers could deliver. See it for the performances, stay for the education and please take a moment to reflect on the messages of racism and oppression that are on full display.

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