It’s always hard to watch and take in the hardships and struggle the black community went through in a white society that didn’t believe in equal rights nor fairness. Particularly with a white justice system that was incredibly corrupt, biased and went with word-of-mouth rather than hard factual evidence, it’s no wonder none of them chose to contest and true justice was never served.
In Just Mercy set in 1989, we follow the true story of young Harvard graduate named Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who travels to Alabama to defend an African- American man named Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), convicted for murdering Ronda Morrison back in 1986. With McMillian now facing death row, Stevenson overlooks the evidence of the original McMillian court trial and discovers a massive flaw, which leads him to fight towards getting McMillian a retrial and the true justice he deserves.
Knowing that the cast contained the talents of Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson, I instantly knew that I was in for a very powerfully orchestrated performance. Every emotional struggle, every physical struggle and breaking point was just showcased so well, to the point that the audience in the cinema during my viewing could be heard expressing their every emotion as they followed Just Mercy on its rollercoaster journey. Just the misdirection of being led down on what seemed like a resolving path, which would then turn into a drastic turning point for the worst, I felt really made this film even more interesting and engaging.
As well the film being based around racial unfairness, you witness and can really feel the frustration of the main character, what kind of challenges he is up against and how tough of an environment he is working within. I felt Michael B. Jordan carried this film so incredibly well consistently throughout the film with his portrayal as Bryan Stevenston, but I felt the peak of his performance was expressed through his breaking points and times when he felt deflated and defeated. Brie Larson who plays Eva Ansley, Stevenson‘s co-worker and a founding member of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal firm built by Stevenson and Ansley to fight for the poor who couldn’t afford legal representation, did an exceptional job supporting Michael B. Jordan. The chemistry and the energy that bounced between these two was believable, and one on-screen that you could compare closely with (and reminded me of) Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief.
All the way through, I was always engaged with the narrative, remembering that this film is based on a true story. When one failure came up, all I wanted was to know how they would pull through and what legal act they could use to turn the tide? I also really felt for all the characters that were fighting for McMillian‘s release, even the cell mates, the minor characters with their desperation and emotions, it all really hits you hard in the heart.
Just Mercy is an incredible film that captures every struggle and frustration perfectly, it has so much emotion, so much hardship and is led by such a powerfully driven cast. I felt every character’s journey; I cried, I was frustrated, I felt angry and I was captivated. From the beginning to the end Just Mercy is satisfying and an incredible journey to see unfold.