The decade in which the incidents that Just Mercy are based upon is the 1980s.
The year the film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from his screenplay with Andrew Lanham was released was 2019.
Yet oh, how this is a story for today.
This docu-drama tells the story of Walter “Johnnie B” McMillian, an Alabama man thrown in jail – no, make that put on death row – for murder. McMillian’s worst crime, we find out piece by agonizing piece, is that of being a poor black man trying to go about life in a southern town where the law will do anything to avenge the death of an 18-year-old white woman found lying on the floor of a dry cleaners.
In walks a young black man fresh out of Harvard law school with high morals, big hopes and a very small circle of folks to help him start and maintain his organization to set right legal injustice.
Oh, the roadblocks of bigotry and hatred he and the men on death row he embraces and then fights for face.
Michael B. Jordan is perfect as the hard-working attorney, and Jamie Foxx is quite superb as the man trying to keep his dignity and help as much as he can from his cell in the fight to prove that the one witness who testified against him lied under the thumb of the law.
The details of the fix against Johnnie B will make your head swim, your stomach turn and your anger swell.
And when they show the death-penalty room moments of another inmate, a man who served for our country in Vietnam only to return with PTSD that was never revealed to the jury in his case, it’ll make your blood boil and heart race with contempt for the system and compassion for his plight.
Systematic racism that runs to the core?
Here’s the illustration as attorney Bryan Stevenson and his organization fight their way up the ladder of denials to right the wrong against McMillian.
The real photos and explanations of Stevenson’s continued hard work and triumphs that roll with the credits will do some good. But then comes the fact that one in nine convictions that send somebody to death row are proven to be false …