Just Mercy

Just Mercy ★★★★½

Just Mercy is the type of studio drama that really works. Stevenson and McMillian's story is truly touching on a variety of levels while being a more-than-solid legal drama, a genre that has fallen to the wayside in recent years. Cretton's direction is effective, if lacking somewhat in the style found in his earlier works,

Michael B. Jordan is on the top of his game here, delivering a subtle performance that bursts out into pure empathy at a variety of points. The entire ensemble is excellent, with Foxx being the obvious stand-out in a truly transformative performance. He's unrecognizable in nearly every sense; the only clue you have to it being him is the name in the credits. Larson is wasted in a nothing role though, and it definitely feels as though she only took the role because of her relationship with Cretton.

Besides the stellar acting, everything here is average to good, but this film adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The sheer delicacy of how Cretton handles the death row inmates leaves one deeply affected by everything that happens in this movie, and it's hard to imagine making through this without your eyes watering up more than once. In particular, a sequence in the middle of the film involving Rob Morgan's character (who is a close second to Foxx in understated greatness) is heart-wrenching to the highest degree, tense and emotional, and the peak of quality cinema.

Just Mercy doesn't reinvent the wheel, but that's okay. Excellent studio filmmaking is hard to come by, and Just Mercy fits the bill more than enough. Tearjerking with a solid message and a truly fantastic ensemble, it's a truly great movie from Cretton and tells a true story well worth hearing. Really impressive.

TIFF19 #2

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