Just Mercy

I now know that hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Hope allows us to push forward even when the truth is distorted by the people in power. It allows us to stand up when they tell us to sit down. And to speak when they say, “Be quiet.” Through this work I’ve learned that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. That the opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.  That the character of our nation isn’t reflected in how we treat the rich and the privileged, but how we treat the poor, the disfavored and condemned.

Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

Release Date: December 25th, 2019 | Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Just Mercy follows the story of Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer fresh out of Harvard law school who has just moved to Alabama in the hopes of representing those who can’t afford legal counsel. Upon starting his work in Alabama, Bryan is introduced to Walter McMillian, a man who has been sentenced to death row for the death of an 18-year-old girl. There is insurmountable evidence that McMillian didn’t commit this crime and that he is being framed for the death of this girl. As Bryan Stevenson continues to fight for justice, he deals with several counts of racism from the people of Alabama and from the Judicial system itself. 

This movie is made by the actors and the strength of the story. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx seem to have an instant chemistry that the screenwriters and directors definitely take care to make use of. Michael B. Jordan plays Bryan Stevenson with conviction and doesn’t falter from his imposing manner. He plays the lawyer as a man who doesn’t back down and a lesser actor might not have been able to pull off the intense power that Stevenson radiates. It’s quite well done. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Walter McMillian is convincing in the sense that he plays the anxious, yet, pensive role of a man who knows he’s about to die with the conviction of someone who actually believes he’s going to die. These two roles must’ve been extremely traumatic for two black actors who have had to watch members of their community face these injustices. This fact must’ve served as a great motivator for the stunning performances. 

In terms of the story, it’s a heartbreaking one. There are so many times that the events on screen make the audience feel as though they’re powerless to stop some of the terrible happenings. The fact is, the fact that this is a true story and that the “characters” are real people who are still alive. While the purpose of this movie might feel as though it’s meant to tell a story that many people know, I almost feel as though the larger purpose of this movie is to reiterate the fact that Civil Rights has been an ongoing fight. While many people believe that the Civil Rights movement ended in the 1960’s, this movie is a beautiful testimony to the fact that Civil Rights has been moving slowly. Enacting laws means nothing if those who enforce the law choose to do so with their prejudices intact. This movie demonstrates that. Stevenson faces extreme cases of racism, including being stopped by police for an unidentified reason. This racism occurs despite his education and despite the work he does. It’s an interesting commentary on the movements that are constantly taking place in the United States. 

Overall, this movie relies heavily on the content and the acting. While the cinematography is well-done, it’s nothing remarkable. The story provides a strong commentary that is only enforced by the actors and their dedication to their roles. This movie is so important to be watching at a time such as this because of all the unrest going on. Everyone deserves a fair trial and rights despite the color of their skin and the fact that a fight that was occurring in 1980’s is still taking place today is a testimony to how slowly prejudices fade and how it takes many generations to erase the wounds of the earlier ones. I recommend this movie for everyone. 

RATING: 9/10

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