Just Mercy

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Michael B. Jordan in Just Mercy.
Michael B. Jordan in Just Mercy.
Photo: Showmax

Just Mercy




4/5 Stars


After graduating from Harvard, Bryan has his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian, who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.


The American justice system has been in the spotlight the past few years on both the big and small screens. From How to Get Away with Murder, to the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer to more recently Ava Duvernay's When They See Us.

The American justice system has been tried in the court of public opinion and has been found lacking in its treatment of minorities and the disenfranchised.

Just Mercy is yet another true-life story of people who have been wrongfully convicted, framed by the authorities, and even coerced into confessing to crimes they haven't committed. It is based on the memoir by civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B Jordan) and one of his first death row cases, Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx) an African American man who was found guilty of killing a white teenager without any evidence against him.

This was not an easy film for me to watch. Seeing people's humanity being ripped from them because of the colour of their skin is particularly distressing for me as a POC. A man's guilt was determined simply because of the way he looked. I went through a range of emotions while watching this movie – from anger to sadness, and then, hope.

Michael B. Jordan gave a nuanced performance as Bryan Stevenson. There was a chilling scene in which he was strip-searched when entering the prison for his visit. A myriad of emotions washed over his face from stubborn dignity to helplessness. In that moment you felt like you were right there in the room with him during that humiliating experience. Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson and the rest of the ensemble cast all too bring their A-game. And again, the actors let the compelling story take the spotlight.

This is a story with a message – there isn't more you can do to heighten the drama, the fact that these are real events is drama enough. Just Mercy is an important film that everyone needs to see.


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