The powerful, emotional, and almost two and half hour film Just Mercy is based on true events that occurred in Monroeville, Alabama in 1987. The film chronicles the harsh reality of racial inequality and a corrupt American criminal justice system. I think that actors Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan were phenomenal and were snubbed of a 2020 Oscar nomination. The film was also produced by Michael B. Jordan and released in select U.S. cities Christmas 2019 and released nationwide on January 10th, 2020. I don’t know if the release date made the film not be qualified to be nominated for the 2020 Academy Awards or if “the powers that be” who do the nominating didn’t want this kind of movie to get publicity, but in my opinion, the movie is a must-see and should be required viewing for everyone.
I watched a matinee showing of the film and felt a range of emotions and cried happy and sad tears while watching. The film tells of a young black Harvard educated lawyer named Bryan Stevenson, played by Michael B. Jordan, who heads down to a rural Alabama town to help wrongfully incarcerated people who lack the resources to get adequate legal representation. One case about a black death row inmate, Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, stands out and captures the attention of Bryan Stevenson.
PLEASE STOP READING IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM and come back to read the rest after you have seen the film.
Despite the many obstacles and hurdles Bryan still had such a caring and determined spirit and wanted to help to free innocent people like Walter. Going out of his way to meet Walter’s family said a lot and meant a lot to Walter and his family. A standout, heartbreaking moment during the film that made me cry was when the older inmate who was suffering from PTSD from the war had to go to the electric chair and Walter was trying to comfort him by telling him to breathe and think of the trees and when it was time for Walter to die the other inmates started chanting and banging their cups up against the prison bars. The irony of the film is that it takes place in Monroeville, Alabama. Monroeville is famously known from author Harper Lee’s book “To Kill A Mockingbird”, which is about a white lawyer representing a wrongfully incarcerated black man who eventually gets freedom. The town and it’s white citizens prides itself on that history, yet ironically is repeating the history of imprisoning wrongly accused innocent people.
I think that something that stands out in this film is that all of this happened 33 years ago and when you think about it that is not that long ago. I think at times some people tend to picture or visualize racism of being something of the past in the 1950s when there were black and white movies and no computers, but these events occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during a time when many millennials were babies or small children. I think it’s important to know the history of our country and people’s true-life stories so that society can learn to not repeat inequalities and to see how far we still have to go as a nation. I give this film 5 stars and I hope that it sparks beneficial conversations and changes in our American judicial system.