Just Mercy is a movie that wants to convey its compelling premise to many people. There are so many films that have been based on true stories, and they’re admittedly not easy to adapt on the big screen. They require filmmakers who have to do justice to the people they’re portraying in front of the camera, while still keeping the audience engaged. Luckily, Destin Daniel Cretton does a great job as both the writer and director in showcasing one of the most thought-provoking stories that happened many years ago.
Based on a memoir with the same title, the film focuses on a lawyer named Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who is trying his best to prove the innocence of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). He has been wrongfully accused for killing a woman in Alabama, and he’s being put on death row for a crime that he did not commit. It’s up to Stevenson to do whatever it takes to set McMillian free and seek proper justice.
Michael B. Jordan brings yet again another phenomenal performance that showcases why he is one of the best actors working in the industry today. The audience can feel his character’s ambition of wanting to help innocent people, and that’s a crucial aspect that the film shows really well. You can tell the actor wants to properly portray Stevenson’s legacy as someone who never gives up and works hard to seek justice. Jamie Foxx is outstanding in the movie as a supporting actor, and he brings some heavy emotions at times. It’s quite sad to see a nice man like Walter McMillian suffer in prison. Whenever Jordan and Foxx are on screen together, they have great chemistry with one another. The rest of the cast is also really good even if they don’t appear in the film all that much. However, they still bring something relevant and important to the overall story.
While the acting performances are absolutely incredible, the storytelling is admittedly a little formulaic. Cretton manages to grab the audience’s attention for the most part, but the pacing does drag sometimes during the first half. The story itself is interesting for sure, but it would have been better if the narrative flow stayed consistent throughout. The execution of the premise is not always groundbreaking, but some scenes are undeniably gut-wretching to watch. However, the last act is an emotional ending that does forgive some of the film’s pacing issues.
While it does have some flaws in regards to its formulaic storytelling and pacing, Just Mercy is an engaging and emotional drama that conveys a very important message to moviegoers everywhere. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx showcase some fantastic performances as amazingly talented actors, which helps the audience be deeply invested in the legacy of these two unique individuals. It is a compelling film that shows the harsh reality of the wrongly convicted.
Just Mercy is now playing in theatres.