Just Mercy is the perfect film to watch for those who are trying to learn about the systemic racism that exists in our country.
The story of Bryan Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) fighting for Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), an African American placed on death row with insufficient evidence, is reminiscent of reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
After graduating from Harvard, Stevens takes the risk of moving to Alabama and teams up with Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) to start the Equal Justice Initiative. Early on in the movie, we see the risk both Ansley and Stevens are taking to bring death row inmates a fair trial. Ansley is met by a bomb threat on the phone while having dinner with her family and Stevens is harassed by police officers.
Despite the intimidation tactics, Ansley and Stevens still work to bring McMillian a fair trial. Upon reviewing McMillian’s case, Stevens finds the case was built against McMillian based on an unreliable witness, who happened to get a shorter sentence for another crime.
After finding faults with the witness and his statement, Stevens meets with the family of McMillian to hear their side of the story and he finds out McMillian has an alibi.
Stevens writes a motion to the district attorney (DA) to get the case reopened, and here is where we see the challenges of fighting a corrupt justice system. Stevens has clear evidence to reopen the case for a retrial but he isn’t even taken seriously by the DA. From the meeting with the DA and sheriff it is clear, McMillian’s case hasn’t been reopened because of the public backlash the DA would face.
Stevens works tirelessly to get the case reopened and succeeds. However despite his success,the film is still one that will leave audiences feeling somber. The film opens our eyes to the sad reality that our justice system’s goal isn’t always to find the truth and bring justice.
People shouldn’t have to fight to get a fair trial regardless of the crime they are on trial for, the color of their skin or their socioeconomic status. A fair trial is a right that everyone should have.
Warner Bros Studio has made the movie free to stream during June to raise awareness of the racial injustices that are taking place in our country. To find out which platforms the movie can be streamed on go to https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/just-mercy