Just Mercy – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Just Mercy – Fighting the Unjust, A Legal Drama Standard     

One of the most interesting aspects of cinema is when it blends real life with emotional storytelling.  The idea of taking a journey full of wits and charm can mean moving through a sea of emotional worth.  This can make a basic outline feel more than its standard tale.  Just Mercy is a legal drama that pushes forward real-life situations with the strength of its character.  Here, you have a general story being pushed with raw emotions.  Even when the story represents the basics of the genre, Just Mercy is a riveting tale that brings to light important issues of our time.

The story follows defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B Jordan) as he works to free Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) from death row.  Wrongly accused, he puts forward a strong effort to reveal the truth of the case.  The outline is based on the general standards of any legal drama.  The storytelling progresses through each situation with a stage like mentality.  You have your typical introduction, exposition of each person(s) past and then the stages of the case.  Here, the audience is witness to the ‘versus’ scenario of one side against the other.  As the story begins, the focus is placed on the defense attorney.  You get to see the ‘what, where and why’ about his cause to fight for those on death row.  Paralleling this is one of those sentenced.  You get the same ‘what, where and why’ explanation to move the plot along and bring these two together.  Once everything is in place, it becomes a mixture of thematic presence, genre standards and emotional worth.  The ideas of the era (1980s) helps ease you into understanding the struggle of the fight.  The audience is witness to the revelations of the case, as well as the overall present issues within the criminal justice system.  Even with a multitude of generalities, the strength of the story is within its main characters.  Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx shine in their roles, exuding individuality with convictions.  The daunting aspect of their fight only brings truth the tale, seeing the rawness in their personality.  This helps the audience believe in their fight.  This has a ripple effect on the rest of the cast, helping them shine through the basic archetypes to become like the real people they represent in the film.

As the story moves forward, the linearity adds to the predictable nature of the drama.  Once you get to the court case portion, the plot progresses through its legal stages with a lot of general character dialogue and heavy exposition.  This showcases the faults in the melodrama, giving you meaningful gestures within basic monologues.  At times when emotions and truth should be prime, it is overshadowed with generalities to get from point A to B.  Once in the third act, you get a sense of trueness of the themes.  This leads into a climax that is obvious at fault, but provides the best character moments for the audience.  Once in the epilogue, you get the roll down of the real characters that inspired the film.  Just Mercy might play along the typical genre outlines, but the characters provide a journey that exudes realism of the cause.  If you are a fan of legal dramas or true stories, this is one for you.  It is worth seeing at the theaters as a matinee.    

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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