Risk-averse approach lessens impact of a true story of injustice

Despite the good intentions of talented director Destin Daniel Cretton (“Short Term 12”), “Just Mercy” is a watered-down adaptation of the memoir of attorney Bryan Stevenson. By stark contrast, Stevenson’s vibrant, revealing source material is about the systemic decay that consumed America’s criminal justice system in the 1980s and beyond.

This movie has nothing of the book’s considerable breadth. Instead, by focusing almost exclusively on one of Stevenson’s most egregious cases, the narrative gets lost in the garden variety and sanctimonious trappings associated with typical courtroom dramas.  

Where Stevenson’s book was chocked full of startling facts and figures that vividly put the system on trial, Cretton’s script, he’s co-written with Andrew Lanham (see “The Shack”), is lifeless. 

Read Jonathan’s full review online and in print in the Times-Herald:

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