The name Destin Daniel Cretton may not be big yet, but trust me, that’s about to change. Cinephiles have been keeping a close eye on his work ever since he directed Brie Larson in Short Term 12, the film she should’ve won the Oscar for, thank you very much. While their followup, The Glass House, failed to connect with audiences, it still showed tremendous promise, enough to catch the eye of Marvel who hired him for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. That film promises to send his career into orbit, but it may lift off early with the legal drama Just Mercy, which has a prime awards season slot.
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, the film centers on the real-life fight for justice by attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson challenges the corrupt Alabama court system in trying to free the wrongfully-convicted Walter McMillan. The excellent cast also includes O’Shea Jackson Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Rob Morgan, Rafe Spall, and Larson, who is never far from Cretton, it seems. Perhaps Captain Marvel will make a Shang-Chi cameo?
SYNOPSIS: A powerful and thought-provoking true story, “Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.
Just Mercy will make its world premiere at TIFF before opening in limited release on Christmas Day. An expanded rollout begins January 17th, but it should play at other festivals before then.