Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx deliver stellar performances in this thought-provoking film based on a real-life injustice in Alabama.
A Harvard law graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), declines several lucrative jobs and heads to Alabama. There, he agrees to help local advocate Eva Ansley (well played by Brie Larson) run the Equal Justice Initiative. Their mission: Defend anyone who has been wrongly condemned or not given proper representation.
After interviewing inmates at Holman Prison, Bryan hones in on Walter McMillian (Foxx), a timber cutter who has been convicted of murdering a white teenage girl. At first reticent, Walter eventually accepts Bryan’s help.
From the start, it is clear that Walter, aka “Johnny D,” has been victimized by the Alabama justice system. Friends and family members, who could provide alibis, were not allowed to testify. The entire case was based on the coerced testimony of a convicted felon (Tim Blake Nelson).
Bryan maintains a steely reserve and tenacity as he battles against the covert and overt racism of the small town. I marveled at his ability to rise above the many roadblocks he encounters in his quest for justice.
I was surprised by the behavior of the other inmates on death row. While they can’t see each other, they do indulge in friendly banter between the bars and walls of their confinement. I would have liked more details about Herb Richardson (Rob Morgan), a Vietnam veteran who planted a bomb on a woman’s porch while suffering from PTSD.