After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian's life.
This movie is extremely intense. This is one period film that is sure to bring you sick to your stomach. It’s one hell of a roller coaster and if I’ve seen this film in 2019, it would have made my top ten list.
If you don’t know the story of these characters, I highly suggest you read about them AFTER seeing the film. However, it is no doubt that you have heard this story before. An African American man is accused of killing a White woman and thrown into jail even with plausible evidence that he is innocent. It is a notion that was extremely popular post Jim Crow, and I am elated that we finally get to see Walter McMillian’s story on screen.
As expected, the cinematography is striking. Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) is a very articulate director and he always chooses the best DP to capture his vision in style. Just Mercy features long wide shots and extensive close-ups that scream tension in the most agonizing form. You feel trapped in the room with these characters and eventually end up stepping in their shoes. It is masterful filmmaking, and I could not think of a better visual representation to tell this story.
The performances are really what takes this film over the top. Jamie Foxx continues to prove that he’s one of the best triple threats we have today. Proven in Django and Ray, here he gives another groundbreaking performance that steals the show. Yes, even from Michael B Jordan who is currently getting all the buzz but gives a less spectacular performance in my opinion. He is good, but not great. The characters who play Walter McMillan family is riveting. They relief us from all the pain with subtle humor and culture. Another standout is Brie Larson. Thank goodness we get to see her true acting chops again because we all know that I was not a fan of her in Captain Marvel. She is a spectacular actress, and in like manner in Room and Short Term 12, she sure gives us another masterclass.
Just Mercy is not for the faint heart. There are scenes that left my theater silent for fifteen minutes straight. It is a tough film to watch, but everyone needs to see this. It’s a story that exposes the system we lived in and shows how much things have not changed.
See this film.
Make sure to stay for the after credits.