Michael B. Jordan gets a shock to the system visiting death row for the first time in the new trailer for “Just Mercy,” setting him on a journey to fight for the rights of inmates who are just like him but have been wrongly convicted.
“The first time I visited death row, I wasn’t expecting to meet somebody the same age as me, from a neighborhood just like ours. Could’ve been me, mama,” Jordan says in the trailer’s opening moments.
“Just Mercy” is based on the true-life story of civil rights defense lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson and follows a young Stevenson (Jordan) as he fights to defend and free those wrongly convicted of crimes with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson).
The film focuses on one of Stevenson’s first cases in Alabama, that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who in 1987 was sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year-old girl. McMillian was convicted despite evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Stevenson becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for McMillian, and others like him, with the odds — and a system — stacked against them.
“You don’t know what you into down here in Alabama when you’re guilty from the moment you’re born,” Foxx tells Jordan’s Stevenson in the trailer.
“Just Mercy,” directed by “Short Term 12” filmmaker Destin Cretton, stars Foxx and Larson alongside Jordan, as well as Tim Blake, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Karan Kendrick.
Cretton also co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Lanham (“The Glass Castle”).
The film was produced by two-time Oscar nominee Gil Netter (“Life of Pi,” “The Blind Side”), Asher Goldstein (“Short Term 12”) and Jordan. Stevenson, Mike Drake, Niija Kuykendall, Gabriel Hammond, Daniel Hammond, Scott Budnick, Jeff Skoll and Charles D. King served as executive producers.
“When I got to know Bryan; his story, his work, everything he was about and how much of his own personal life he had sacrificed, I was nervous,” Jordan said during a panel discussion at CAA’s Amplify summit in June.
“I was like, ‘Man this guy is damn near perfect I don’t want to mess this up’ — I know how important this is,” he continued. “You talk about ‘Fruitvale Station’ and Oscar Grant for me was another one of those roles I was so proud to be a part of…as a young black man Oscar could have been me, I took that very seriously.”