Available on UK streaming services for rent.
Just Mercy is based on civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson’s book which explores the shocking story of the wrongful conviction of black man Walter McMillan, for the murder of a young white girl Ronda Morrison in Alabama, on no more than false testimony and the desire to see someone found guilty for a terrible murder.
Just Mercy patiently tells the story anchored by two strong central performances from Michael B. Jordan (Stevenson) and Jamie Foxx (McMillan). It doesn’t particularly do anything new or surprising and is a pretty standard telling of this kind of story, with lots of the tropes and characters you expect.
However, that is not a particular criticism as the real life story is powerful enough that it doesn’t need any cinematic gimmicks to tell it. The film very much relies on the true life stories own incredible arc to carry it along, two strong central performances make sure it is well told as well as good support from the always watchable Brie Larson and Tim Blake Nelson.
What Just Mercy does is take its time to tell its astonishing story of a broken justice system more focussed on convicting someone based on race than seeing justice done, flagrantly disregarding evidence that proved a mans innocence and happy to create its own to meet its own ends. There is no particular grand standing court appearances and you don’t get any “you can’t handle the truth” moments and it takes time to be as shocked by some of the legal decisions made as we are.
I’m a big fan of films like this that highlight real world injustice and anything that shines lights on institutional racism should be encouraged and in Just Mercy’s case it delivers its message well and certainly left me astounded and disgusted that supposedly educated modern society still allowed (and allows) deplorable institutional racism to not only exist but flourish.
While there are areas the film could have explored and some of the characters are relatively thinly developed it doesn’t stop it been a powerful watch.