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July 13, 2020

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Movie review: Just Mercy

The story is very powerful and the film is very effective. Have tissues on hand.

Icon movie review "Just Mercy"
Reviewed by Wilson

JUST MERCY tells the story of civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (MICHAEL B. JORDAN), who travels to Alabama fresh out of law school to defend a number of prisoners on death row. His most notable client Walter McMillian (JAMIE FOXX), who is on death row for a murder he did not commit. 

Stevenson’s investigation and defense of McMillian uncovers and exposes the corruption and racism that runs rampant through Monroe County’s justice system.

The film, co-written by DESTIN DANIEL CRETTON and ANDREW LANHAM (THE GLASS CASTLE) and directed by CRETTON, plays like a conventional legal procedural. Stevenson arrives on the scene, uncovers secrets, interviews his clients, and files lots of paperwork with the courthouse.

If you’ve seen a legal procedural, especially a biopic, then you will know what to expect from JUST MERCY. 

There are times where viewers can see the script churning through the formula, moving through a number of obligatory genre tropes as we approach the end of the movie. I urge audience members to look past the familiarity of the genre to the story being told and the excellent craft used to tell it.

The story is very powerful and the film is very effective. Have tissues on hand.

Its effectiveness is due largely to the performances at the center of the film, namely those of JORDAN and FOXX, who are phenomenal as the central figures of the story. ROB MORGAN, who plays Herbert Richardson, and TIM BLAKE NELSON, who plays Ralph Myers, also give noteworthy supporting performances. 

With limited screen time, MORGAN delivers an incredible emotional performance that carries the film’s first half, and NELSON does a great job in a sympathetic portrayal of a man who is coerced into complicity with a corrupt justice system.

Earlier this month, Warner Bros. made JUST MERCY free to stream on a number of platforms (including Google Play and Amazon) in order to educate viewers on systemic racism.

To this end, JUST MERCY is a very effective introduction to viewers who are seeking to educate themselves on the way that racism exists within a system, even despite the personal beliefs of the individuals in the story. 

Rating: 4 out of a possible 5. JUST MERCY is free to stream until June 30.

-Wilson

JUST MERCY is rated PG-13 for thematic content including racial epithets. 

Interested in watching this movie tonight? Here’s how:

Amazon
• Open the Amazon streaming platform on your streaming service provider (such as Smart TV, Roku, computer)
• Search for JUST MERCY in the search bar. Select the video.
• Click “Rent Movie” in HD for $0.00

Google Play
• Open the Google Play streaming platform on your streaming service provider (such as Smart TV, Roku, computer)
• Search for JUST MERCY in the search bar. Select the video.
• Click “Add Rental to library”

Introducing the Icon's movie reviewer:
“Wilson” is an alias for this reviewer, taken from Wilson the volleyball in CAST AWAY (2000). Wilson has been an avid movie watcher for more than a decade, with hundreds of movies viewed in that time ranging from classics of American cinema to international and independent features. Wilson’s writing is inspired by the film criticism of Roger Ebert. 

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