Warning: this review is going to get political, I am going to say nasty things about racism and honestly, if you feel bad for racists, Off You Fuck!
Tonight we saw Just Mercy, an early screening through the cards. I’ve never felt more physical discomfort caused by the subject matter of a film in my life.
Set in the 1990s in the Deep South – Alabama I believe – and with occasional very pointed links to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (never read it or watched it, don’t @ me). Just Mercy tells the story of newly qualified Lawyer Bryan Stevenson played by Michael B Jordan, who after finishing Harvard Law School, uses grant funding to establish the Equal Justice Initiative, with the assistance of Eva Ansley played by Brie Larson. He starts by meeting men on Death Row, and in those initial discussions he meets Walter McMillan or ‘Johnny D’ played by Jamie Foxx
(The film actually opens with Johnny D, showing him being arrested for the murder of an 18 year old White girl.)
Bryan takes Johnny’s case, and I do not do spoilers but let’s just say there are set backs, this is America, the Deep South of America, a place where even now some people didn’t get the memo that the colour of your skin doesn’t automatically make you guilty of a crime.
In a decent performance by Rafe Spall, we have a spineless District Attorney, whose name doesn’t matter, but he’s quite obviously bent over with his pants down for the corrupt Sheriffs Office. I had hopes for his character, it’s mentioned he’s a former public defender, at which I though yes, he knows real people. Sadly he was as racist as the ‘bad guys’.
Tim Blake Nelson was stellar casting in my opinion as a sleazy informant, he’s appearing more and more frequently and impresses me every time. Mirror dude in Watchmen – if you haven’t watched it, do it.
Michael B Jordan acted his chops off in this film, emoting the hell out of each twist and turn. Prior to this, I wasn’t a fan, in fact I’d say I actively wouldn’t watch him if I had a choice – this I give credit to interviews I saw with him in the Fantastic Four and That Awkward Moment days, he just seemed like a dick and so did his characters back then – my mind is changed, Creed started it and Just Mercy finished it.
For me, I sat and watched and felt myself move through anger, to hope, back to anger and pure embarrassment that even if this was purely a work of fiction, it wouldn’t be based on nothing. And as those black screens with white writing reeled up, I was even more disappointed to find this was a true story.
I hate racism, I specifically hate the shoot first ask questions later attitude of many Police Officers when it comes to African American men, it angers me and honestly I can’t get my head around how it’s still rife (not that it was EVER acceptable) in 2020. I hate gutless spineless pricks who think it’s ok to judge people by their colour and I hate that this happens so frequently in a country run by a man who looks like a failed abortion dipped in Fake Bake.
So yes, Just Mercy is horrible, it’s an awful story, it disgusted me, but it’s an amazing film, and I hope everyone leaves the cinema as uncomfortable and angry as I did. A difficult watch as I call it.