Just Mercy | Chicago Reader

Just Mercy

In this harrowing docudrama, Michael B. Jordan stars as Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who worked to establish the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1989. Among his first clients was Walter McMillian, formidably played by Jamie Foxx, who was wrongly accused of killing a white woman and unjustly sentenced to death. Adapted from Stevenson’s memoir about the case, it’s both rage-inducing and awe-inspiring; the courage conveyed by the protagonists is a balm on the sting of injustice. As evidenced in his noteworthy debut feature about a group home for troubled teens, Short Term 12, writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton has a knack for conveying such stories, handling their nuances with conspicuous sensitivity. Elegant close-ups do well to center people over politics, putting a literal face to the injustice at hand. Brie Larson costars as Eva Ansley, the cofounder of Stevenson’s nonprofit center, and Tim Blake Nelson gives a compelling performance as the felon/key witness during McMillian’s trial who later recanted his testimony.

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