Just Mercy: a Social Justice Courtroom Procedural
Just Mercy is a solid courtroom procedural, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, that draws attention to the faulty mechanisms of justice, specifically concerning prisoners on death row.* Michael B. Jordan brings his best intense focus** to assist Jamie Foxx’s Walter McMillan in his quest to clear his conviction for murdering a woman he had zero contact with. While this movie is slightly too long, it does a lot, not only with plot, but also by giving example after example of how the scales of justice are more equal for some than others.***
The verdict: Good
Cost: Cost: $1.425 due to Redbox promos, but actually free because I used a gift card.
Where watched: at home
Consider also watching:
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- The Great Debaters
*It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie dealing with the courts, which was a welcome change.
**He is so good at intense focus!
***And this, not really equal at all.
- What do you think of the statistic given at the end of the film? For every nine people put to death in the US, one has been freed.
- What aspect of discrimination was the most difficult for you to view in this film?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
In one scene, Bryan and Eva sit on the banks of the Alabama River and watch a recreation of a nineteenth-century riverboat sail by. Bryan says to Eva, “Nobody wants to remember that this is where thousands of enslaved people were shipped in and paraded up the street to be sold. Ten miles from here, black people were pulled from their homes and lynched and nobody talks about it. ”
This is a nod to the fact that years after this movie takes place, Stevenson’s organization the Equal Justice Initiative expanded its mission. Although it continues to provide legal defense and advocacy for prisoners on death row, children in adult prisons, people who have been wrongfully convicted, and others in need of defense, they also started to memorialize the history of slavery and lynching in America.
In April 2018, EJI opened two new facilities. One was the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, a museum located in a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. The other was National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people and people terrorized and murdered by lynching. EJI also works with communities to install historical markers that acknowledge lynchings in those cities’ pasts.
Other reviews of Just Mercy:
- Sara Stewart, New York Post
- Joi Childs, IGN