‘Just Mercy’ is a film that doesn’t need a white savior

The first thing you have to know about Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Just Mercy” is it’s a film with awards-worthy form. Heck, if the Academy won’t recognize it as such, every person who goes to watch it in the cinemas would.

The dramatic biopic centers on a young, idealistic lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, whose first decision out of Harvard is to move to Alabama and provide legal services to the convicts in death row.

Every case he takes on is a life-or-death fight where justice is painstakingly sought in the American penal system—a system riddled with widespread corruption and unexamined racism that strips innocent people of their humanity.

“You don’t know what you’re into down here in Alabama, when you’re guilty from the moment you’re born,” Walter McMillian said. Mcmillian, known as Johnny D., is played by Jamie Foxx with such a quiet and moving performance.

The reality “Just Mercy” summons back is brutal. It’s heartbreaking. So many African-Americans were sent to death row with false statements and lack of evidence, and most are convicted without legal representation and without even going through a trial.

The film fosters rage and empathy over the years these innocent men lost, the same years that continued to weigh heavily on how they spent the rest of their lives.

Our protagonist, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, has such pure intentions in his daily battle for civil rights. “I know what it’s like to be in the shadows,” Stevenson reasoned. 

His mere presence is a representation of hope. His bravery is ought to be revered. Jordan gives us a soulful embodiment of such a reputable and enduring man.

Jordan has extraordinary talent that remains to be unrecognized. I call it utter injustice to have him off the Oscars ballot again this year. In “Just Mercy,” he shows us a shifting mix of fear, resilience, anger, and most importantly, hope, all while bringing Stevenson’s unrelenting conviction on the screen. So the question remains: What’s it going to take to get this man nominated?
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Just Mercy is opening in Philippine cinemas on January 22

No comments

Get L’amour e-mail updates