Just Mercy - This Movie Almost Rote Rocks
Dir: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Ralf Spall, Rob Morgan, O'Shea Jackson Jr
There’s more than a whiff of Oscar bait about this true story-inspired legal drama. If anything that whiff is too strong in a movie that is sometimes a touch too by the numbers, despite its obvious sincerity.
Jordan is quietly compelling as Bryan Stevenson, a newly qualified Harvard lawyer who heads to Alabama to open a practice devoted to helping convicted men on that state’s death row. Here he meets Foxx’s wrongly convicted Johnny D, and sets out to help him.
Along the way, there are various inevitable racist cops, dodgy prosecutors (take a bow, Spall), illegal late night pull-overs, strip searches, a hoped for last minute reprieve, and, as ever, a scene stealing turn from Tim Blake Nelson.
It all builds towards a fairly standard-issue courtroom climax that is easy to see coming, even if it does offer moments of genuine passion, albeit in place of any real sense of tension.
Jordan is hugely impressive, Foxx offers powerful support, but recent Oscar winner Larson is wasted in her role as an idealistic lawyer determined wo work with Stevenson.
Just Mercy is a very solid movie, involving to a degree. But it’s never really as inspired as it wants to be – or thinks it is.