Although playing out like a typical legal drama does, Just Mercy finds some solace through more committed performances than what we’re used to. Heavy and lengthy runtime isn’t quite justified as parts of it go bit too long but at least the story isn’t looked at just from the surface level. The film tells a real story of an attorney Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) who finds himself defending innocent, wrongfully convicted man named Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx).
This is Michael B. Jordan’s to own as nearly all of the movie is spent with him on the screen and he provides. Portraying all of the determination, professionalism, humanity and doubt in one, Jordan is the one you can’t look away from. His level is matched in several occasions and mostly by Tim Blake Nelson as Ralph Myers, the man who is a key witness for McMillan’s conviction to death row. They share couple amazing scenes in prison as both actors really get something to chew on, both from material and emotion stand point. Rob Morgan as Herbert Richardson (another man in death row) is just as great whenever the camera lets Jordan breathe for a second, notably the part when the day of execution has come and Richardson needs to prepare for his end.
Clocking in at two hours and 15 minutes, the movie drags a lot here and there. There are scenes between Stevenson and side characters that really don’t play well on the screen and could’ve easily been cut. It also takes some time away from Stevenson’s and McMillan’s interactions which is the main point of the film. This leads us to not really knowing about Stevenson quite enough for the other scenes to matter as much. Also the courtroom scenes come off as dry and they could’ve used more especially from the score, much of it is quite disinteresting when compared to what came before.
Smileys: Michael B. Jordan, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, prison scenes
Frowneys: Runtime, pacing, courtroom scenes
Just Mercy is exactly what you’d expect and that’s just fine.