‘Just Mercy’ and ‘Clemency’ – A stark look at the criminal justice system

Hands Of The Prisonersource: CNN News
published: 24 December 2019

Two year-end movies offer a solid, complementary one-two punch on the issues of the death penalty and criminal justice involving African-Americans, even though one, “Just Mercy,” is based on fact while the other, “Clemency,” is a fictionalized story.

Set in the late 1980s, “Just Mercy” stars Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, who is introduced as a Harvard law student working to help prison inmates in [the state of] Alabama. Two years later, he’s back as a full-blown lawyer, working for a group that seeks to assist those who were denied fair trials or adequate representation.

Despite the smiling faces he encounters within the system — urging him to visit the Harper Lee museum, honoring the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” — Stevenson’s efforts suggest the justice in the Deep South hasn’t advanced much since those days. The idealistic young attorney grapples with that as he seeks to free the wrongly convicted Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), hoping to win him a new trial for a murder he didn’t commit.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and based on Stevenson’s memoir, “Just Mercy” rather slowly covers a lot of familiar ground, with another Marvel universe alum, Brie Larson, playing Stevenson’s co-worker and Rafe Spall as the district attorney opposing him.

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