Entertainment » Movies

Just Mercy

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Apr 28, 2020
Just Mercy

The most magical thing that a movie can do is to make you forget that you're watching a movie. Yes, movies can make us feel things, good and bad, and that's great. But it's only when you forget that you're looking at a screen with people playing make-believe that something truly special happens. Nevertheless, when movies fall short it's like finding the Wizard of Oz is just a man behind a curtain. "Just Mercy" is the latest heartwrenching embodiment of this disappointment.

Bryan Stevenson just finished Harvard Law School. The bright-eyed new lawyer picks up his things and heads down to Alabama with plans to change the world. Along with Eva Ansley, he sets out to help those on death row who may have been denied a fair trial. Bryan ventures to the prison to talk directly to those that could use his help. There he meets Walter "Johnny D" McMillian, a black man convicted of murdering a white girl. As Bryan digs into the case, he discovers that the conviction had much more to do with race than evidence.

"Just Mercy" has everything going for it: An absolutely stacked cast, a strong director, and a true-life David vs. Goliath story with a backdrop of systemic racism. It is the type of lesson-teaching, heart-string plucking, tale of triumph that can get the attention of every money-spending demographic. But what ends up happening isn't all that great. Do you remember when you were young and somehow all of the smartest kids in class ended up on the same group assignment? You'd think, "How can they lose? This will obviously be the best project!" Only to have the resulting submission be pretty mediocre. The problem is that everyone expected it to be great, so no one really tried all that hard.

The resulting movie is a very well assembled cinematic mediocrity. The script is hacky and prone to speechifying, a proclivity that Michael B. Jordan devours. His Bryan Stevenson only speaks in metaphors and explanatory platitudes. He swings for the fences when a note of subtlety was the better course of action. Jamie Foxx is great in what has become a somewhat specific kind of awards-season Jamie Foxx role, while Brie Larson is barely in the movie. "Just Mercy" will please plenty and its message of battling any kind of supremacy is admirable, but you've largely seen this movie before.

The Blu-ray release is basically an afterthought. Included are three short behind-the-scenes featurettes (none of which manage to make it to ten minutes in length) and some deleted scenes. The most interesting part is that the deleted scenes contain a whole subplot that got excised from the film involving a boy named Charlie. The subplot itself isn't interesting, just that it was completely dropped. "Just Mercy" largely wastes an intriguing story in a field of mediocrity and the Blu-ray release isn't a whole lot better.

"Just Mercy"
Blu-ray + Digital HD


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