31+ Just Mercy Reviews – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Cites Difference Between Black and White Legal Dramas

Just Mercy ⭐️⭐️½

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar NBA star, actor and writer, too? Yes, it’s true, and he’s writing about the new in theater anti-death penalty movie.

Before continuing, there are SPOILERS in this post. You might want to see the movie first before proceeding.

… you have been warned SPOILERS ahead …

Now, onto Jabbar’s commentary:

…is a riveting, infuriating and inspiring story that focuses on three black men on death row, two of whom are innocent of any crime and a third who, if he were white, never would have received the death penalty. While the movie details how race led to their wrongful but inevitable conviction, it also warns of the dangers and inadequacies of capital punishment. The overwhelming case against capital punishment is so well documented, it’s shocking that 29 states still use it. The death penalty costs more than life without possibility of parole, it executes innocent people, it’s racist in application, it’s not a deterrent to other murderers, and so forth.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘Just Mercy’ and the Difference Between Black and White Legal Dramas | Hollywood Reporter

Jabbar is using this movie for a screed on capital punishment. As much as I’d like to take that bait, I’m going to stick to the critiquing the movie itself in this post and how it dealt with the topic.

The legal system is put in a very bad light in this system, but when you have racist cops with an agenda, the system is tainted by the “evidence” used for prosecution..This is a fairly common theme in movies that we’ve seen before.

I thought the source material was very good, extremely compelling, but didn’t recommend the movie because of how it was relayed to the viewer. There have been better legal dramas dealing with racism, most notably A Time to Kill by John Grisham featuring Samuel L. Jackson who murders two racist in the south and is on trial for murder. That isn’t a true story like the one portrayed in Just Mercy, but it is considerably more entertaining.

Brian Banks is better, too

One of the very first new movie we saw after becoming Regal Unlimited Pass subscribers was Brian Banks⭐️⭐️⭐️½ which dealt with a black football player wrongly accused of rape and how he struggles to clear his name in an unwieldy and largely unwelcoming legal system. There are definite parallels with how the legal morass is navigated. This is a stronger and better told story. 

Summary

Maybe another death row convict’s story will be told in a future movie that better deals with the subject matter. The actors did a good job with what they had to work with. I’m a fan of both Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan and they should be proud of their work in this film.

Reviews by Others

Let’s find out what other moviegoers think of Just Mercy?

Recommended

  1. Bill/I Actually Paid To See This (Grade: B): ” Like a lot of historical films, the crux is the journey in getting to the known destination. In that respect, this is pretty by-the-numbers. You get stories, flashbacks, setbacks, a second act climax that is meant to leave you wondering if there’s any hope, and then eventually the resolution everyone pretty much knew was coming.”
  2. Bouquets & Brickbats (3.9/5): ” It’s a pity, perhaps, that Cretton has opted for such an understated style: more anger, more excoriation, more subtlety in the depiction of the establishment, might have elevated this to a big-hitter, conveying its vital message to a wider audience. As it is, its an important piece of work, but probably destined to be viewed by relatively few. “
  3. Dana Simone/Runpee (Grade: A): “…a good dramatic story deserving a solid A, illustrating why we should always do the right thing for the right reasons.”
  4. Far from Rome: “The film is a powerful indictment of our criminal justice system and how it is weaponized against blacks. Jordan has a courtroom moment that rivals anything of the great Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It just might give you goosebumps, and it belongs on his actor reel for this awards season.”
  5. High Contrast: “I hope Just Mercy continues to gain steam at the box office and find a huge audience in theaters, on disc and on streaming platforms. This is not a movie that should be missed by anyone.”
  6. Island Movie Blogs (8.5/10): “…is a wonderfully acted movie, that makes a really compelling argument about the death penalty, but doesn’t exactly get into the rarified air it wants to be in.”
  7. Jeff Huston (3/4): “Competently done, with genuine sincerity and moral weight, Just Mercy ultimately transcends the familiar, simplistic melodrama this telling often resorts to. It may be Oscar bait, but it’s worth taking.”
  8. Keith & The Movies (4/5): “The movie doesn’t feel particularly fresh or new but it’s unwavering in its honesty and dedication to its characters (with the exception is Larson’s Eva who is terribly underdeveloped). And I can already hear some criticizing it for not being “angry enough”.”
  9. M.A Kleen: “I think it’s refreshing for a movie of this caliber to stick so closely to the facts. You don’t need Hollywood revisionism to tell a compelling story about racial injustice in America. I’m glad they got this one right.”
  10. Major Film Reviews: “Apart from a few pacing issues in the middle, this film is an engrossing, and at times harrowing look at the failings of the American justice system, portrayed by brilliantly talented actors, and shot with conviction. A very enjoyable film, with a memorable and deeply moving message at its heart,”
  11. Martin: Through The Silver Screen (Grade: A+): “With a trio of fantastic performances at its centre, and an emotionally charged story packed with an urgent, powerful message that must be heard the world over.”
  12. MATINEE CHAT With Kathy Kaiser: “Powerful, moving, and yes, it brought me to tears… Just Mercy is one of those incredible films that you just have to see, to believe.”
  13. Movie Man Jackson / MMJ (Grade: B): “…delivers a sound and intriguing analysis of the validity of the death penalty. Does a just world exist? Maybe, maybe not,”
  14. Movie Reviews From The Dark: “…it’s Mr. Foxx who excels here. He conveys the feelings of resignation that the man has for his situation … a situation so beyond his control, and one that he understands is biased against him.”
  15. Movie Warrior (4/5): “…is executed brilliantly. The movie is understated while getting to the point. Things do get a bit emotional but that is expected given the subject matter.”
  16. Music Movies Thoughts / Thomasena: “Tragic and triumphant, relevant and rousing, Just Mercy is a timely film that offers the viewer an education as much as it serves as a call to action.”
  17. Nic Mahood: “…is horrible, it’s an awful story, it disgusted me, but it’s an amazing film, and I hope everyone leaves the cinema as uncomfortable and angry as I did. A difficult watch as I call it.”
  18. Often Off Topic (3.5/5): “As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.”
  19. Rae’s Reads & Reviews: “I got to go see an advanced screening of Just Mercy starring (my future husband) Michael B. Jordan. Must I say, this movie is a must-see! It was so good!”
  20. Roger In Orlando / Movie Nation (3/4): ““Prejudiced,” as evidenced by the behavior — personal, official and legal — in this case and many others like it, is what “Just Mercy” sees as instructive. Break down the word. “Prejudiced” implies “pre-judged,” which is the curse of our legal system — under partisan assault, courts stuffed with judged deemed “unqualified” but fitting the racial and political agenda of those doing the appointing.”
  21. Screen Zealots / Louisa: (3/5): “There’s a compelling enough courtroom drama that’s drawn out near the end, which is mostly disappointing because it makes the movie feel too long. Something with more succinct would leave a greater impact, at least with holding the audience’s attention.”
  22. Thoryn A B Gittos (7.4/10): “I encourage all to take the opportunity to see this film upon it’s release if only to shed light on some of the harrowing statistics around people sent to death row under false pretences.”
  23. Tom E./Plain Simple Tom Reviews (4/5): “An emotionally rousing and all too relevant true-life story with effective direction, great writing, and strong performances from Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.”
  24. Writer of Pop: “Stevenson is a devout Christian and his faith is likely a huge motive for doing what he does. But with the exception of a few brief mentions, his faith is never really shown in this film. Even so, this is movie not to be missed.”

Not Recommended (or undecided)

  1. C.C Saunder / Whispers of a Womanist: “So while I commend the brilliant performances delivered by the film’s leading and supporting black cast, Just Mercy, remains among the plethora of films that mutate the black archive in a merciless portrayal of men made mules by a white supremacist manifold.”
  2. Festival Reviews (3/5): “…over dramatizes a real true life event in the typical Hollywood style.  Those looking for a feel-good history lesson might enjoy this, but this film is no TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.”
  3. Jill / Drinks With Film (3/5): “Michael B Jordan portrays Stevenson as a noble, caring young man on a crusade. Sadly, the heavy-handed musical score and polished speeches lend the film a preaching-to-the-choir feel. The film is saved by Foxx’s strong performance and that of his fellow inmate, Morgan (Herbert Richardson)”
  4. Josh Board (2.5/5): “Overall, the movie is interesting enough to watch. It’s a bit heavy-handed and formulaic, and comes off as a Lifetime movie. It’s basically Oscar bait.”
  5. Josh Lasser / The TV & Film Guy’s Reviews (2.5/5): “…fails where it most wants to succeed. It does well telling the story of one conviction being overturned; of one injustice rectified. What it wants to do is tell how the world was changed, how the system was fixed, but it doesn’t come close to approaching that issue.  Instead, it simply offers a declaration of near victory.   That just isn’t enough.”
  6. Let the movie move us: “It just was not strong enough for me to process the whole story as someone who is interested in capital punishment and believes there are more stories like this that must be told.”
  7. Nick Kush / Moviebabble: “…it never has faith in its audience to pull meaning from what is a clearly defined story of pervasive injustice.”
  8. Phil The Bear’s Film Reviews: ” is the quintessential awards season film. It features powerful performances on a subject matter that is thought provoking and of course is based on a true story. We have seen this all before but that doesn’t stop it being an entertaining and emotional journey.”

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quote from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: 1917, Like A Boss, Just Mercy, Underwater

Week #2 – 1/10 to 1/12/2020 – offers four very different genre films to choose from at the theater: war, comedy, legal drama or action-horror:

  • An imaginative directed and amazingly shot war film creates a completely immersive experience
  • An unfunny and yet oddly entertaining comedy,
  • A dramatic fight to save a death row convict against seemingly impenetrable legal odds
  • A murky mess of a film that belongs at the bottom of the ocean.

#1 is …

… easy to pick (because it’s so much better than the others) …

1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

1917 is one of the greatest technical marvel films ever shot

Roger Deakins is clearly a genius cinematographer. I defy any moviegoer to watch this film and not come away with at least one “how did they shoot that?” moment. They are using wires to guide the camera hovering over water, panning steadily as they are in almost constant movement.

This film is literally on the move and you feel it. Even thought we don’t get to know that much about the two soldiers with a mission to deliver critical battle instructions, viewers are riveted by the danger and peril of the battlefield. It is a captivating, yet unusual war film. Usually war films show tons of battle scenes involving a bunch of soldiers. Here we are treated to mostly scenes after the battle has taken place. It’s like walking through a gigantic cemetery and it’s very, very unsettling.

This is the definition of a must-see film. I’m calling it my favorite film of 2019, even though I watched it 9 days into 2020. Director Sam Mendes, doesn’t get to have his film cover two different years, although it’s probably one of those rare films that deserves the calendar in his favor. Moviegoers will be talking about this film for awhile. Deservedly.

Like A Boss ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tiffany Haddish keeps her streak of unfunny comedies going. If you think her over the top yelling, raspy voice is somehow funny — and many people in the theater we watched did — then this movie is recommended.

The almost completely sold out theater laughed many times at Like A Boss — I didn’t even smile

Kara thought this was funny and a “good” film. I keep going back in my review to the story, which was different for a comedy. I can’t remember the last time seeing any movie about a cosmetics store, so points credited for a creative script. It’s just not funny though. I want to laugh at least a little bit in comedies. Others did, I felt like the person in the room that didn’t get the jokes. This is a very, very reluctant recommendation.

Just Mercy⭐️⭐️½

What a segue to a film that should be rated much higher. The source material is great and there are outstanding actors like Jamie Foxx as an innocent death row convict and Michael B. Jordan as his fiercely determined attorney fighting for his freedom.

Alas, the script is mostly boring until the ending. Major props to Foxx and Jordan for trying to squeeze lemonade out of lemon of a script. I wanted to love this film, but in the end, only loved what it could have been if it had a better script, editing and directing.

Underwater ⭐️

Kristen Stewart is as forgettable as the film

There are so many things wrong with this film, where to start? How about the lack of any significant character building? Compare this to other films underwater like Leviathan (Robocop’s Peter Weller and Richard Crenna ) where building a detailed sense of the crew underwater actually matters. This film inexplicably decides we need none of that.

No, instead, let’s burst into the action with an earthquake and an imploding underwater structure that six members of the team must escape.

Then there is the whole logic problem of how on earth are these people walking around on the ocean floor almost seven miles underwater? Do these incredible underwater suits actually exist that can protect a human being from the massive depth pressure? I kept thinking, almost saying aloud, “is this even possible?”

Now, the other big hazard, the gigantic monster. How it can toss around these crew members like rag dolls and not breach their suits every single time is, well, ludicrous. When it is convenient for the tentacled creature to get the people inside the suit it’s easy, but when the plot requires extending the life of a particular character, nope, the creature is unable to breach this magical logic-defying suit.

Where to start with Kristen Stewart? She is all kinds of bad, and not bad as in a good bad way. Just bad bad. She walks around most of the film with this annoying smirk on her face. Is she constipated? Does she not really care about the film (understandable!), in some kind of physical pain (the suit allegedly was painful to be in) and/or just there to collect a paycheck? We rarely see lead characters in a film so completely disinterested and uninspired. Sure, we can blame some of this on an abortive script and mediocre directing, but no actor/actress leaves with this kind of performance unscathed.

This movie is full of more holes than Titanic.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theater recently (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films we rate as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Ford v Ferrari ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ScreenX
  3. Little Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. Richard Jewell ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  5. Uncut Gems ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  6. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bombshell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  8. Like A Boss ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching!

Why are Celebs Buying Out Screenings for their Favorite Movies?

Just Mercy ⭐️⭐️½ 

Have noticed a puzzling trend for (mostly) celebs grabbing headlines with buying out screenings. I see a few fans of films doing this, too, for equally illogical motives.

Stay with me.

I’m not bashing people doing nice things for others. It’s definitely feel good to see people with money helping others less fortunate.

But … that doesn’t appear to be the common motive behind any of these screening buyouts.

First noticed these type stories with Charlie’s Angels because, presumably, we need to celebrate women kicking butt for the (not) first time on film. That might have been worthy to grab a few minutes of access media attention, but the film bombed badly.

Then there was similar stories about celebs buying out screenings of Queen & Slim. The common goal there? Need to support “the message.”

Now, Kobe Bryant with Just Mercy:

Bryant this week said on social media that he bought out the Regal UA Riverview Plaza in South Philly for 1 p.m. screenings of the film on Saturday. The former Laker also included a link for fans to register for free tickets, but the event is currently full (those interested, however, can still join a waitlist).

Kobe Bryant wants Philadelphians to see a movie so badly, he bought out a screening at the Riverview

Props to the Lakers NBA star for offering these free tickets and others who do the same, but there is a fundamental flaw in logic beyond this being simply a nice gesture for others.

When I see some of these celebs buying out theaters because they want to somehow impact box office sales, I almost laugh out loud.

Has anybody sat down and done the math?

The average theater has, what, 60-80 seats? At $13 a ticket, that’s less than $1,000 USD for 70 seats for one showing.

If you bought out every showing for the weekend from one theater, that’s going to cost less than $25,000 USD. That’s not even a blip on the radar for box office sales for one day. Nobody rich is going that far, though with buying out a single showing.

Bill Gates could buy out every Seattle area theater for a movie and it still wouldn’t have a significant impact in overall box office sales for a film.

There are better ways to spend money for a message, cause, agenda, whatever.

Why not report on stories where these rich people are spending money on better causes? A much better use of money than buying out screenings to a movie like Just Mercy would be paying the legal expenses for a wrongly imprisoned death row convict.

If you want to do something good with money for a cause, then donate to it!

Hey Kobe and others: here’s an alternative idea vs. buying out a single screening of this movie and letting 70 people or so see a movie for free: donate to The Equal Justice Initiative.

Opening 12-25-2019 in Theaters: Spies in Disguise, Little Women, 1917

Getting this out a little earlier than Wednesday as normal being that tomorrow is Christmas day and movies will be opening tomorrow instead of Thursday and Friday like it works most every week.

Seems like screenings have changed and 1917 is only in limited screenings and opening wide on January 10, 2020. Just Mercy was bumped to January 10, 2020 as well.

The other two movies are opening wide this week. Bummer, I was most looking forward to seeing 1917. We’ll take the grandchildren to Spies in Disguise and finally (!) be able to catch up with Adam Sandler’s dramatic thriller role in Uncut Gems which is opening wide this week. Yay!

Spies in Disguise
[FIRST LOOK]

Opening wide in theaters Christmas Day 12/25/2019

Still have mixed feelings on this one. Will Smith as a voice actor appeals to me more than as a live actor, although I still have his voice imprinting on Gemini Man⭐️⭐️ and that’s not a good thing. This movie needs to wipe that stain away.

Hopefully our grandchildren will enjoy this. It looks young children friendly, even though it’s not rated G. They like some animated films. On Disney+ they are watching Frozen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ all the time.

Anticipation: 5/10

Little Women
[FIRST LOOK]

Opening wide in theaters Christmas day 12/25/2019

Normally the top image in this weekly post is the film I’m most looking forward to, but this week I switched it up and made it the film I’m least anticipating.

Reason? The FIRST LOOK for this one here on this blog has had a decent amount of views. Seems at least readers are interested in this one more than Spies in Disguise by this very unscientific metric. Maybe this movie will be great, I don’t know, I’m trying to have an open mind.

Anticipation: 2/10

1917
[FIRST LOOK]

Limited opening 12/25, wide opening in theaters January 10, 2020

I guess the limited release for this one is so that it can be included in the awards for 2019 and the delay is so it isn’t running up against the newest Star Wars movie? Guess I kind of get it, but still it’s lame.

If you can see it before it opens wide January 10, 2020, I’m envious!

Anticipation: 7/10

ANTICIPATION for Week of 12/25/19 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 12-25-2019 movies? Those marked with asterisk are not available in our area this week, so will carryover in future weeks until available to watch in our area.

  1. *Uncut Gems – 9/10
  2. *1917 – 7/10
  3. Spies In Disguise – 5/10
  4. Little Women – 2/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

Uncut Gems is available today, Tuesday 12/24 in our area, so we’re planning to see that. 1917 as mentioned above, isn’t available near us, maybe it is near you. I’ve been trying to avoid reading any reviews for that until after seeing because I don’t want that spoiled. Spies In Disguise and Little Women are both widely available and we’re planning to see at least one of these on Christmas day, then spend times with the grandchildren opening presents.

Which of these movies, if any, are you looking to see?

Happy holidays to all who celebrate!

FIRST LOOK: Just Mercy

Do you know who death row convict Walter McMillan is?

I don’t. And am resisting the urge to read the Wikipedia page and spoil the surprise and momentum for the upcoming film Just Mercy.

The only reason I know he’s a death row convict is because of the trailer and courtroom drama in the trailer (see below).

The article linked in the quote is relatively safe from spoilers save for one sentence I now can’t erase from my memory. So, maybe don’t follow that link unless you already know more about Walter McMillan.

In the article, Foxx explains how he got into McMillan’s character.

Foxx also told the roundtable that his biggest challenge in preparing for the role was developing an Alabama accent. The Texas-born actor has played a number of roles based on Southern men, including Grammy award-winning musician Ray Charles in the movie “Ray,” a portrayal that garnered him the Academy Award for “Best Actor” in 2005. But Foxx says the most difficult part in replicating McMillian’s voice was crafting a vernacular and pitch that would sound authentic and not like a caricature.

Watch Jamie Foxx talk about preparing to portray Walter McMillian in ‘Just Mercy’ – al.com

I’m a big fan of Jamie Foxx. Great actor and going into this, I’m already excited with his name associated with the film. Michael B. Jordan plays his attorney and he’s a little typed in my mind, I just see him as Apollo Creed’s boxing son. Admittedly, I can and will get past his role there, but whenever I see his face, it reminda me of Creed.

Just Mercy official trailer

Just Mercy opens wide in theaters December 25, 2019.