Review by C.J. Bunce
Just Mercy had us simply from the superhero actors in key roles. But now that America and the entire world is looking more deeply at systemic racism in light of the killing of George Floyd with the largest civil rights protest in the history of our planet, what better time to check out a major theatrical film, a courtroom drama about racism based on a true story, now available to rent free? Thanks to Warner Brothers, to support Black Lives Matter Just Mercy is now available on major streaming platforms free this month. It’s a solid drama for everyone, and particularly anyone gripped and moved by race-themed dramas we’ve reviewed here at borg, including the Chadwick Boseman movies Marshall and the Jackie Robinson movie 42, and Stephan James’ Jesse Owens story, Race.
As a courtroom drama, put this film right alongside A Civil Action and Erin Brockovitch–the handling of the stakes in all three true-life events is handled with similar gravity. Just Mercy stars BET Award and Image Award-winning Black Panther and Creed actor Michael B. Jordan as lawyer Bryan Stevenson (who wrote the story the film is based upon). Stevenson is defending Walter McMillian, played by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 actor and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx. McMillian was a black man accused of murder in Alabama by a white felon named Ralph Myers (played by Grammy Award winner and The Incredible Hulk’s Tim Blake Nelson), who was coerced by local police into giving false testimony. Academy Award winner and Captain Marvel actor Brie Larson plays the director of a legal aid center Stevenson creates to help those in need.
As a matter of handling racism, the film sadly and unfortunately will be too familiar to everyone, but it deftly highlights the very issues being examined right now. Director Destin Daniel Cretton opts for a mirror reflection of society in this straight-forward handling of seeking justice, similar to director Reginald Hudlin’s handling of an early Thurgood Marshall case in 2017’s Marshall. The acting is just what you’d expect from the slate of top actors, and Foxx was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award this year.
It’s sad and truthful, but hopeful. Watch Just Mercy on major streaming platforms free throughout June 2020, including via Vudu and here at Amazon.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg