“Just Mercy” follows Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a Harvard graduate who sets his sights toward societal righteousness. He moves to Alabama, with the intent of fighting for poor people who cannot afford proper legal representation. Along the way, he meets Walter “Johnny D” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), an African American man who was wrongly convicted of murdering a Caucasian female. With the help of Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), Stevenson builds a case to bring Johnny D home. The end result is a highly emotional film, overflowing with social and humanistic relatability.
Whereas many modern films utilize punches and explosions to achieve an abundance of praise and attention, “Just Mercy” places emotion at the forefront of its cinematic existence. We are thrown into a frustrating world, which hides behind its democratic system. We see the contradictions that exist in such an immoral community, and as the dramatic relationships intensify, the humanistic stakes blow sky high. In the end, we receive a film that tests our patience and heart.
In all actuality, Just Mercy should be labeled a “wall punching narrative.” Constantly, the flick throws high forms of adversity our way, amping up our most inner levels of discomfort. Filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton wonderfully paces the film in such a way that replicates the slow-burn nature of justice. Thus, when the motion picture finds its sense of peace and redemption, the ensuing payoffs are monumentally gratifying.
Best of all, Just Mercy is a film that celebrates diversity. Michael B. Jordan, an African American performer, is front and center, once again proving that he is an exceptional artist. Brie Larson is given a sturdy supporting role, filled with undying morals and stable willpower. Jamie Foxx, an older African American performer, is given a rich role, consisting of narrative versatility. The other African American performers expertly back up this dramatic trio, building a community that brings racial injustice and communal togetherness to the forefront of public consciousness.
In closing, I highly recommend Just Mercy. Sure, there are flaws. As is often with many quote-on-quote Black films, there is a frustrating lack of prominent Black women in a film that finds room for a white woman in high visibility. There are throw-away lines. And sure, the film’s pace drags at specific points. But all in all, Just Mercy is a cinematic success, inspiring us to be better human beings. Through its stern portrayal, it shows us that hope can transcend the harshest of circumstances.
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