Just Mercy (2019)
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson
Narratives that highlight the plight of the wrongly accused and incarcerated often lead to great performances in film, the best examples being Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Michael Clarke Duncan’s heartfelt portrayal of John Coffey in The Green Mile (1999). Oddly enough, Frank Darabont directed both. Could newcomer to the sub-genre Destin Daniel Cretton get an equally amazing performance out of his lead, Jamie Foxx, in 2019’s Just Mercy?
Events of the past color this film early. The story is sadly a familar one, and goes as follows: a black man in the south is falsely accused of murdering a white woman. After years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s given up hope, until…. along comes Micheal B. Jordan to try and get him out.
The early scenes with Jordan’s character, attorney Bryan Stevenson, are affecting and believable, but the film really picks up steam when Jamie Foxx steps on screen as Walter McMillian; you can’t help but notice that the senior actor is far and away more connected to his role. The rest of the cast is good too, with Brie Larson as Stevenson’s assistant and C.J. LeBlanc as the son of the incarcerated McMillian.
From drama to courtroom drama, Just Mercy kept me engaged. Not shot in an overly cinematic way, the exceptional performances make a one hour and thirty seven minute film fly by and, as the credits rolled, so did the tears down my face.
It’s fair to say that newcomer Destin Daniel Cretton does get an amazing performance from his lead, but the supporting cast couldn’t quite match the precedent set by Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks in Shawshank and The Green Mile respectively.
If Shawshank is an A+, and The Green Mile is an A, then Just Mercy is a heartfelt B