As an intern whilst in law school Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) has to interview a prisoner on death row, a man not unlike him in age and upbringing. The impact is lasting and when he qualifies as a lawyer he moves to Alabama and sets up a grant funded institute where he can help those inmates sentenced to death. Based on a true story Just Mercy tells us about Stevenson’s efforts to help Walter “Johnny B” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man sentenced to death for a crime that he claims he was not even in the same town as when it took place.
Just Mercy is the quintessential awards season film. It features powerful performances on a subject matter that is thought provoking and of course is based on a true story. We have seen this all before but that doesn’t stop it being an entertaining and emotional journey.
Whilst the subject matter focuses on the way the justice system fails the poor and how systemic racism oppresses black people, there are also interesting discussions about the fact that regardless of guilt the death sentence is still not something society should take upon itself to pass.
Again during awards season this is a film that gives multiple actors weighty roles to get their teeth into. Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson play the idealistic people trying to help those in need despite the risks involved. Jamie Foxx, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Rob Morgan and Tim Blake Nelson all play inmates to excellent effect. It’s a shame to say that Rafe Spall as the District Attorney of the town the film is set in feels slightly out of his depth against such acting talent.