Just Mercy (2020) A Review

This film will pull at your heartstrings, make you angry and make you hopeful all at the same time.  It’s such an important and impactful film.  I cannot recommend highly enough.


DIRECTOR:  Destin Daniel Cretton

STARRING:  Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx

SCREENPLAY:  Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham

GENRE:  Drama

RUNTIME:  136 Minutes

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars  

I knew from the get go that I was going to love this film.  I am a sucker for real life, ‘based on a true story’ type films.  So before I had even stepped into my screen I knew that this was going to be a highly rated film from me, but I never thought was going to love it as much as I did.

 Based on the true story of Civil Rights Lawyer Bryan Stevenson, ‘Just Mercy’  is the story of his struggle to free death row prisoner Walter McMillian, after he is wrongly accused of a murder he didn’t commit. He is fighting against a racist system that has no interest in the defence of a black suspect, who was considered guilty, before he even went to trial.

This film was just phenomenal.  Whether you live in the US or not, the topic of the death penalty is something that we should all be aware of, and the statistics that surround it. This film has done a great deal of background research in to this subject, and it really knows what it is talking about.  So as well as being emotionally charged and gripping right from the start, it is also informative and hard hitting when it needs to be.

Jamie Foxx is as always a reliable addition to the cast. He rarely gives a dull performance in my opinion, and he really does give one of his best performances here as Walter ‘Johnny D’ McMillian.  I was surprised however by Michael B. Jordan’s performance here.  To me he has a history of coming of rather flat in a lot of his performances, despite how great many of his characters are.  That is not the case here however.  He delivers a heart felt and emotional performance as Civil Rights Lawyer Bryan Stevenson and it is a great change of pace from the roles he tends to be given, “Creed” “Black Panther” and “Fantastic Four” to name a few, and it’s good to see him taking on something with a bit more heart and drama then these previous ‘tough guy’ type roles.  And I am excited to see what else he is capable of.

The story telling is gripping and excellently written.  As Bryan Stevenson was heavily involved with the production of this film, I assume part of this is down to him, and part down to amazing screenwriting and directorial skill. Films set in prisons can at times be bland and depressing, just due to their setting, but that doesn’t stop this film from being visually amazing.  There are clever uses of scenes, set up to show the comparisons between Black and White communities, and how really, there are no differences.  Just one group is considerably less affluent then the other. This yearning for equality is prevalent throughout the whole film, but this was a really clever way of doing it, without throwing the fact in your face.    

It does suffer from a slight pacing issue during the middle portion of the film; parts of it did start to feel a little long to me.  But the emotional and nail biting climactic scenes more than makes up for it, so don’t be put off.

I highly recommend everyone to see ‘Just Mercy’ when it arrives in UK cinemas on January 17th

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