There's no question that "Just Mercy" tells an important real-life story about a man wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death row. But outside of one great performance, it's a bit too straight-laced and straight-forward to add anything new.
"Just Mercy" is just OK, but that doesn't mean that it isn't effective. Based on the memoir by defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (portrayed by Michael B. Jordan in this film), it's about a man, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who appeals his conviction of murder, in which he was wrongly accused and sentenced for when a dead white woman was discovered in Alabama, in the mid 1980s.
There is a great cast surrounding the two leads, with Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan and O'Shea Jackson filling out the supporting roles, but the minute you know the premise, you'll know exactly where this movie will take you, and all the beats it will hit along the way. While Foxx is quite amazing (he just landed a Screen Actors Guild nomination for the role), Jordan doesn't seem to be able to match Foxx's intensity. Larson is mostly wasted in a supporting role, and we just don't get enough of Tim Blake Nelson.
Sadly, there have been several movies like this one, all of which include personal stories that deserve to be told, but from a cinematic standpoint, it's a bit too familiar. This is a paint-by-numbers courtroom drama, and it's a subject that should evoke much more emotion..."Just Mercy" just isn't able to generate much.
Run Time: 2 hours 16 minutes.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Tim Blake Nelson, Brie Larson, O'Shea Jackson, Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan.
Co-Written and Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton ("Short Term 12," "I Am Not a Hipster").
"Just Mercy" opens theatrically on Friday, January 10th, 2020.
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