Before he takes on Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, director Destin Daniel Cretton and co-writer Andrew Lanham tackle head-on the issues of racial injustice and the death penalty with the help of a few A-List stars in Just Mercy.
Instead of finding work as an aspiring attorney in a big law firm, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) heads south to defend those wrongly accused of capital murder crimes. Helping him is Ava Ainsley (Brie Larson) and the two navigate through the hostile South. No one will rent them office space because they’re there to set criminals free. Law enforcement isn’t making things easy either as they attempt to overturn their convictions. At one point, Stevenson is subjected to a humiliating strip search before he can meet clients in prison.
“…must figure out a way to discredit Myers’ testimony, prove prosecutors didn’t provide exculpatory evidence…convince the judge the case was tainted…”
Stevenson finds a few clients, but Just Mercy focuses its attention on one, in particular, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). McMillian is on death row, and his execution date draws near. He was convicted of murdering a young white woman based on the eye-witness testimony of a convicted felon, Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson), even though he has dozens of eye-witnesses including friends and families who said he was with them when the crime took place.
Stevenson now must figure out a way to discredit Myers’ testimony, prove prosecutors didn’t provide exculpatory evidence to McMillian’s original incompetent lawyer, and convince the presiding judge the case was tainted from the start. Oh, so easy…