Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

Just Mercy

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Effective, intense drama about racism and justice; swearing.

Movie PG-13 2019 136 minutes
Just Mercy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 10+

Great movie

Great movie about injustice

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 12+

Real world story of racial injustices in the death penalty

This dramatized real-world story of a man unjustly put on death row and his young lawyer who gets his case overturned shines a bright light on the horrors of the death penalty and systemic racism. There is a scene with the electric chair that I could not let my 11-year old watch but otherwise the movie's strong messages and story line are important for all to see. Movies like this help all - including tweens and teens - understand big issues facing our society.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (18 ):

It follows a pretty traditional arc, but this prison/courtroom drama is still effectively tense and moving thanks to fine performances and the picture it presents of simmering racial injustice. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Just Mercy almost always feels like a movie. All of the familiar beats, speeches, and plot turns happen just when they're supposed to, without the messiness of life coming into it (as it did so vividly in Cretton's remarkable breakthrough feature, Short Term 12). But the film quickly establishes a good sense of place, from Bryan suffering the indignities of being Black in Alabama to the large gathering of friends and neighbors at the home of Johnny D.'s family when Bryan goes to see them.

Just Mercy also offers a slate of solid supporting characters -- including a subtly menacing district attorney (Rafe Spall), a candy-munching convict (Tim Blake Nelson), and Johnny D.'s next-cell neighbors on Death Row (O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Rob Morgan) -- all of whom add to the movie's texture. Then, as the pieces of the puzzle come together, occasionally blocked by bigotry and corruption, the tension and excitement start to ramp up. The final piece is Foxx, who's very good as Johnny D., hardened and reluctant to hope anymore. In the moments he does actually find hope, his emotion is palpable.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate