World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.
Rarely does a film capture the essence of the book upon which it is based, but “Just Mercy” does so with eloquent perfection. Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) fights for the rights of innocent men on death row in the deep South. The racial obstacles which he must overcome are unfathomable, but it is his case with Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) that is the through-line of the film. Jordan’s subdued performance is intriguingly captivating, and Foxx finds humanity and hope within the confinement and ever-present cloud of death looming overhead.
A satisfying social justice procedural, this film suffers from being overly familiar. This isn’t the movie’s fault but rather there are far too many tragic stories such as these that have occurred. Working against this, director Destin Daniel Cretton manages to put together a compelling film that is salvaged by the fine performances from Jamie Foxx and Tim Blake Nelson who give moving turns as damaged men trying to find some salvation after being caught up in a system designed to crush them.