Someone, Somewhere, Always Gets Sent Up for Murder
It’s a weird thing to watch a trailer where all the dramatic notes that are supposed to tug at your heartstrings don’t do a thing at all.
- Black man in prison
- White woman fighting for equal justice
- Poor black people positioned as if they’re looking for a savior
- Young, middle-class actor, playing a “Black Jesus” motif we’ve seen before
Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer:
No. It’s not really about ALL of us.
It’s only REALLY about SOME of us.
The Way Things Work Down Here…
Starring Jaime Foxx (Baby Driver), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), and Brie Larson (you already know), Just Mercy is the story of Walter “Johnny D” McMillian who was wrongly convicted of capital murder in 1988 and was sentenced to death row in Alabama.
In 1993, six years later, all five judges of the Court of Appeals, also in Alabama, overturned his wrongful conviction — based on police coercion and witness perjury — and set him free.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term and Glass Castle) and co-written by Andrew Lanham (The Kid) and based off the book written about the entire ordeal by Bryan Stevenson, a noted civil rights attorney, activist, and TED speaker, this is a movie that should have been made 20 years ago.
Right about the time that Denzel Washington stopped doing serious films in favor of action film parodies, Wesley Snipes was on the run from the IRS, Eric Marlon Bishop was just starting on becoming Jamie Foxx and nobody knew who Michael B. Jordan was.
The Pursuit of Equality and Justice
I guess this is what you get in 2019: The revisiting of racism, slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights through the framing of mass incarceration, brought to you by the same film companies, actors, and activist creators, that like to dictate to the rest of us in the country pre-election year, about what our laws, statues, and history should be.
Does this story need to be told?
And it was told back in the early 1990s, at the time it was happening by a mainstream media that included the four major television news companies at the time (ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN) and through the reporting of the three major newspapers of the time (The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal).
But, I guess with the maturing of the generation born between 1984 and 1997 happening apace, it needs to be retold.
Even though we now live in a world of Twitter, social media, “woke” gender and sexual politics, and multiple fragmented news outlets and bloggers, that all speak with the same voice chirping the same bromides about the historical legacies of racism, slavery, Jim Crow and mass incarceration.
Because clearly the way forward to a greater, brighter, tomorrow is to loudly revisit all the times the American justice system failed African Americans in the past.
Clearly, Just Mercy is Oscar bait.
But with it going against films like The Joker, Bombshell, The Lighthouse, and other contenders, I don’t see Just Mercy significantly breaking out of the pack and getting Michael B. Jordan an Oscar come February.
But, every year, around this time, and leading to the Oscars, I find out just how much I don’t know.
Following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019, Just Mercy will be in theaters near you on December 25, 2019.