Movie Reviews for Students: Just Mercy

Do you believe in equal rights? Do you like true inspiring stories? Do you stand against racism?

Just Mercy is an important story about systematic racism and the faulty criminal justice system of the U.S. The film is based on the true story of Walter McMillian, a man wrongfully accused of murder despite no evidence supporting the accusation and Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative which has saved over 125 innocent people from death row. 

The movie begins with the clearly unjust arrest of McMillian, an African-American living in Alabama, a state which has the highest death per capita than any other U.S. state and provides very poor legal help to death row prisoners. One in seven Alabama prisoners who die under the death penalty are later exonerated, an appalling error rate.

It is no wonder then that Bryan Stevenson, trying to use his education and law degree to help others, moved to Alabama to defend innocent death row prisoners. Here he meets McMillian and uncovers the web of lies and deceit that has kept this innocent man in prison for six years. It is remarkable the lengths the justice system went through to keep McMillian in prison, from tampering with evidence, ignoring witnesses to McMillian’s alibi and hand selecting predominantly Caucasian juries to appear at McMillians court hearings. This film portrays the hardships suffered by minority groups and the racism that still lives on in our society.

The film won four NAACP awards, its story enhanced by Michael B. Jordan, acting as Bryan Stevenson and Jamie Foxx, acting as Walter McMillian, alongside many other well known actors including Brie Larson and Rob Morgan. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, this movie sends a powerful message which is further emphasised by the close truth of the storyline.

Very few details of the real memoir were altered, giving the audience an uncomfortable yet necessary awakening to the suffering of innocent prisoners and their families. Is also shows the twisted justice system that allows wrongful arrests to be made.

Stevenson sends his own inspirational message of perseverance, resilience and integrity as he overcomes every obstacle to save innocent lives, eventually setting up an organisation to help those in need.