Alabama logging worker Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) looks skyward towards the gap left by a recently felled tree, never dreaming of the hole in his life this foreshadowing shot would come to represent. McMillian fit the M.O. of a scapegoat, and he was wrongfully sentenced to death for killing Ronda Morrison, an 18-year-old white dry-cleaning clerk. His case was appealed and overturned, thanks to crusading defense attorney (and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative) Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan). It’s good acting at its finest in this preaching to the choir “right to life” drama that might have worked had the filmmakers chosen to show the audience a little mercy by not constantly talking down to them. And whatever became of Morrison’s murderer? The closing crawls inform audiences as to the whereabouts of several of the film’s wrongfully condemned characters. Call it a case of selective compassion, but I had to Google the victim’s name to learn that her killer has yet to be brought to justice. Directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton. (2019) — Scott Marks
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