Parents' Guide to

Just Mercy

By Jeffrey M. 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 13 parent reviews

age 14+

A Moving Film

This is a powerful story, plain and simple. I'd caution younger viewers about the language, but, otherwise, as one of my favorite reviews said, "Just Mercy is a beautiful example of the work, the courage and the faith it takes to push against the wrongs of this world: faith that a broken system can still be repaired enough to yield a semblance of justice. Faith that good people can stand up for a good reason. "
age 17+

Good movie, but should have been R-rated!

This movie had wonderful and powerful messages about the problems with systemic racism in our justice system. The acting was also great. However, I really felt it should have been rated-R. I told my teens all about the movie and we openly discussed these topics, but there were too many inappropriate things for young teens to hear and see. The language was bad and too much was shown about the execution for this rating. I personally would have been traumatized to watch this before age 17-18! Once your kids see this, they cannot un-see it, so exercise caution. Other kid reviews are saying it was scary, so be careful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (13 ):
Kids say (19 ):

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.

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