Because of what is going on out there in the world right now, JUST MERCY, which came out wide in early January of this year in theaters, Warner Brothers made available to rent for free for all of June. Technically, it is really considered a 2019 film since it came out in NY and LA in December, and was eligible for Academy Awards consideration, but didn’t get any nominations. Because the movie didn’t receive any nominations, I skipped it when it came to my local movie house to focus on checking off those I hadn’t seen that did. Since it is a very important time in our nations, no….world’s history, and since the release date is kind of blurred when it comes to reward season, I decided to go ahead and do a review, even though this one was likely not to make either my best of year list. That doesn’t mean anything bad, it is a very solid film, and one that should definitely be watched by every one that has a little time to watch it right now. Be forewarned, if you are a decent human being inside and out, it is a very hard movie to watch because of the awful extreme racism, brutality, and false convictions toward black people. I cringed at the horrible ways they are treated, and most likely you will to. Films like this make you wonder that if you gathered up all the racists in the world, and showed them movies about or real footage of racism for a year straight, would they change their ways? As you can see on my Facebook page, I try and keep it strictly to movies. As I white person, I feel like I want to say something meaningful, but I’m afraid that I might say the wrong thing or someone else could twist my words. So let this review be my ultimate thoughts on what is going on right now. So to end this introductory paragraph before I get into the movie, here is my whole stance on the matter: #BLACKLIVESMATTER .
Like I said above, the movie is solid and really the only reason why it wouldn’t end up in my top movies of the year for either 2019 and 2020 is because, in terms of how many movies I have seen during my life time, it really offers nothing new film wise in terms of black oppression, racial injustice & unforgivable police brutality. Everything that happens in this movie, which plays sort of like another one of those court room investigative drama movies, you’ve seen it all before in much more powerful films. But you SHOULD STILL watch this movie. It is filled with fantastic performances from Jamie Foxx & Michael B. Jordan and the message of #BlackLivesMatter is paced perfectly and is precise in what it is trying to say. Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian who is wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit because of racist bigots, but with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, they try and appeal his murder conviction and get him out of jail before time runs out and they set a date for his execution on death row. Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan have always been incredible actors, see anything they’ve done, they’ve always brought their A game. Here is no different, their facial expressions complementing their dialogue, to make you feel in your heart the hurt and pain that they feel.
The only one that gets a bit of a shaft with their performance is Brie Larson, who looks like she just put a wig on and walked on set to do her scenes while filming something for Captain Marvel. Not to say she isn’t good, but it seems like they could’ve left out her portrayal of her real character from the movie and its message would’ve remained the same. That or just cast an unknown actress and have her small time to shine. She’s the ‘and’ on the end credits, which makes a lot of sense, as she feels more like an extended cameo than a true supporting performance. She has only one long scene with some lengthy dialogue and some quick handful of 30 second investigative reporting, but the filmmakers could’ve just cast someone else not as well known and it would’ve gotten the same job done. I know they wanted to put Eva Ansley, a real life white woman that worked closely with Bryan Stevenson. in the film, but they just didn’t put that character into enough scenes for it to be warranted. It’s all forgivable anyway, because it is supposed to be the Foxx and Jordan show, and she doesn’t take away from their contributions at all. Tim Blake Nelson plays an inmate that initially testified against McMillian who might or might not have a chance of heart, and he gives a very solid supporting performance that should’ve been the true ‘and’ on the credits, and Brie Larson maybe sticking to an uncredited cameo. In the end, I don’t think there is anything writer director Destin Daniel Cretton could’ve done to make this racial injustice film stand out from the pack. He told the story as it happened, with incredible acting and symbolism to get the message across. It is a very solid, albeit familiar film. Might I recommend maybe watching Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman as a perfect triple feature if you are wanting to learn more about the issues going on right now? Any films you would recommend watching with this one? Please do make an effort if you have time if you haven’t seen it. This film needs to be seen right now.