“Just Mercy” brings raw emotion to the screen

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(Photo/ Wikimedia Commons)

Collin Willis

Staff Writer

“Just Mercy” is a true story based on the experiences of a black Harvard law school graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Played by Michael B. Jordan), and how he went down to Alabama to help wrongly convicted felons who face the death penalty. 

Stevenson is now a successful lawyer in the Montgomery area, the founder of the lynching museum in Montgomery, and wrote the book “Just Mercy” that the movie is based off of. This movie brings his activism and passion to a larger audience and will undoubtedly leave a serious impact on those who watch it.

By seeing racial injustices at first hand, Stevenson became more involved in a case that used discrimination and prejudice to put a man behind bars – Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx.

The story is not hesitant about getting into the plot, and with tear-jerking performances by almost the entire cast, it is a movie that keeps viewers engaged. 

The ideas of hope, persistence and using others as a catalyst for strength are illuminated in the movie as viewers watch a good-spirited lawyer search for justice in a racist system that “governs with fear and anger instead of the law.”

Witnessing Jordan in such a serious role strengthened his image as a good actor with a diverse range, in my opinion.

However, in this character, there was a certain weight Jordan carried, and just by looking in his eyes, you understood how important it was for Stevenson to fight for those who have little-to-no representation by the state.

Foxx fed off Jordan’s performance, and although this was not his best role and he appeared only in limited scenes, the way both the actors complimented each other made for a relationship and interactions that were genuine.

The director, Destin Daniel Cretton, did a great job conveying human emotions with close-up shots of actors in pivotal moments, creating an intimate experience for viewers. He used the Alabama landscape to communicate symbolism, and many of the scenes use powerful imagery. 

The context of the story could have been handled better. The way people were acting toward the protagonist and supporting characters made me assume that the actual story took place close to the civil rights movement in the 1950s or 60s, when in reality it was 1988.

Overall, at just more than two hours, the movie is a dramatic true story that highlights the malpractice of the Alabama criminal justice system due to racism. 

There is a moral to the story that resonnates and is still relevant today, and during Black History Month, I think it is worth it for everyone to watch and learn from it. The candid acting and artistic visuals make for a movie that, in my eyes, deserves a 9/10.

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