Just Mercy conveys the strong message of how determination can truly change someones life


Imagine you are put on death row, with only a number of days until your life is taken away from you, and yet, you didn’t commit the crime.

This was the devastating reality of the late Walter McMillian, or as many of his friends and family called him, Johnny D (Jamie Foxx). 

In the year 1986, an eighteen-year-old white woman named Ronda Morrison, who worked as a clerk at a dry-cleaning store, was murdered in Monroeville, Alabama. For a long time, it was unclear to the police who killed her. They then turned to Johnny D. 

Johnny D had no prior criminal record. There was no evidence that pointed to Johnny killing Ronda; yet, he was ultimately arrested. And before he was even put on trial, he was sentenced to death.

It was not until the new and determined lawyer, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), came in that Johnny D’s case had the possibility to be reopened with the goal of freeing him from death row. 

The movie Just Mercy takes this historic and horrific event and shows the pure will power Bryan had to free Johnny D from the death penalty, with all of his charges dropped.

This story will take all viewers on a journey. Not only are there some truly terrifying scenes, but there are also moments that you will start to question just how many people there are today who are sentenced to death and were wrongly convicted.

As for the actors portraying Bryan and Johnny D, they did an outstanding job. Jamie Foxx was able to bring such emotion in the theater with his performance as he showed just how destructive it is for someone who was sentenced to die yet was innocent.

Furthermore, Michael B. Jordan showed the pure ambition that Bryan obtained in trying to reopen these cases to free those that had evidence saying they didn’t do the crime they were accused of committing. 

Alongside these two actors, there were also other actors who brought tears to everyone’s eyes in the theater, including Vietnam War veteran—and sufferer of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)—Herbert Richardson (Rob Morgan), as well as another person who was wrongfully convicted, Anthony Ray Hinton (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). 

These two men were, alongside Johnny D, put on death row for unspeakable reasons. As for Herbert, his post-war PTSD, as well as the lack of support he received for it after the war, was ultimately a large piece of why he committed the crime. Yet, that was never acknowledged during the trial. As for Anthony, his situation was very similar to Johnny D’s because he was also convicted for a crime he did not commit and was given the same punishment.

Both Morgan and Jackson Jr. portrayed these real people in such an authentic manner. Rob was able to fully encompass the internal conflict that Herbert was living through due to the PTSD he suffered. 

As for Jackson Jr., though his presence was not abundant throughout, he was outstanding. He, like Rob, was able to embody Anthony fully, and portray what he felt while on death row.

Prior to seeing the film, I already knew I was going to enjoy it. For me, personally, the line of law that Bryan is involved with is something that fascinates me and could be a possible career path for me in the future. After watching the movie, it made me feel more firm in that decision, as I saw how someone’s life could be changed, which is what I want to do. 

While the movie was presented in a way to tell Johnny D and Bryan’s story, it also highlighted the broken justice system that was present at that time period; and, while there are many areas in the system that have been changed for the better today, some of the issues that were present in the movie are still in existence.

The movie Just Mercy did a fantastic job highlighting this as well as the mental torture these wrongly accused men went through, and how being brave and doing something about it—while never giving up—can change someone’s life.