Just Mercy—based on Bryan Stevenson’s memoir—released somewhat quietly in December of last year. The film starred Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson, a lawyer who travels to Alabama in hopes of providing legal representation to wrongly-convicted prisoners. Throughout the course of the film, he comes to represent Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, a death row inmate sentenced for the murder of a white woman. (The film’s trial is the real-life 1993 case of Walter McMillian v. State.)
In the wake of recent events, highlighting—like the film—failures in criminal justice enforcement and procedures, Warner Bros. will be making the film free to stream over the next month. The company said their intention was educational, stating: “We believe in the power of story. Our film Just Mercy, based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.”
Before Just Mercy was even made, the project was taking steps toward equality in the arts. It was the first major studio film to use an “inclusion rider,” which mandated a proportion of the cast and crew to include persons of underrepresented groups.
Jordan told the Associated Press late last year of his motivations to play Stevenson: “Meeting that person is like: Man, this is the hidden gem. This is the unsung hero. This is the national hero that needs to be protected at all costs. I wanted to do his story justice.”
Jordan’s film career has featured more than one role—fictional and real—which illustrate racial injustice. In 2013, he played Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station. The film chronicles the final hours of Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by police in Oakland, California, after police responded to an apparent fight on the train. One of his earliest roles, Wallace in The Wire, portrayed a kid trapped, chewed up, and then spit out by the Baltimore drug trade.
How to Watch Just Mercy
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