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Just Mercy | 2019 | PG-13 | – 2.4.5

content-ratingsWhy is “Just Mercy” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “thematic content including some racial epithets.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes a reference to a man’s infidelity, a couple of hugs, and male partial nudity during a strip search; a scene of an execution by electric chair (off-screen), descriptions of a murder and the crime scene, several scenes of threats of violence by police and government officials, a couple of altercations with guns being held on people and discussions of the inequality of justice; and at least 1 F-word and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.”


Based on a true story and set in the period 1987-1993: Against all odds, a recent Harvard Law School graduate (Michael B. Jordan) opens an office in Alabama to help men sentenced to death and shine light on the corrupt Southern legal system. One of his first cases involves a man (Jamie Foxx) convicted of murder and sentenced to death despite no evidence besides testimony from a troubled inmate. Also with Brie Larson, Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rob Morgan, Rhoda Griffis and Darrell Britt-Gibson. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. [Running Time: 2:16]

Just Mercy SEX/NUDITY 2

 – A reference is made to a man having had an affair (“He got caught messing around with a white woman”). A woman hugs a man in greeting.
 A prison guard tells an attorney to go into a room where he will strip-search him before he is permitted into the prison; the man goes into the room and removes all of his clothing (we see his bare chest and abdomen) and the guard tells him to “bend over and spread ’em” but leaves the room before doing a cavity search.


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Just Mercy VIOLENCE/GORE 4

 – A man convicted of murder is assigned his execution date and when a stay of execution is denied we see him being led to a room where he stumbles and is strapped into the electric chair after having been shaved and we see another room filled with witnesses watching as we hear a loud thud and understand that the man is dead.
 A man is stopped at a roadblock and officers with guns drawn approach as he is pulled out of his vehicle and slammed on the hood of the car, where he is handcuffed and arrested for murder. An inmate is led back to his cell and refuses to go in; two officers push him and beat him until he goes inside and he is handcuffed; we see him later in a solitary cell. A man is pulled over by police, one officer holds a gun to the driver’s head and tells him to get out of the car, he is slammed against the car and the officer holds the gun to his head while another officer searches his car; they then leave without explanation. A prison guard barges into a visitation room, grabs an inmate and slams him against the door while cuffing him and yelling. A man on a phone call tells a woman that he planted a bomb under her house and that he will blow her and her family up if she doesn’t stop working with another man; she takes her family out of the house and the police search but do not find an explosive. A man is arrested and charged with perjury after signing a statement that renders another man’s testimony untrue. A large dog lunges toward a woman and barks as she passes through a security check in a courthouse; the woman recoils and moves away quickly. A young man yells in a courtroom and is tackled to the floor by officers and handcuffed and the judge threatens him with contempt.
 We hear news reports of a young woman having been strangled and shot in a small town and that the man convicted of the crime was sentenced to death. A man says that he put a bomb on a woman’s porch and we understand that the woman was killed when the bomb exploded. A man in a prison cell cries and says, “They set my date.” Three men argue over the Alabama justice system.
 A man photographs the scene of a crime and we see police watching him. A man refuses to rent office space to a man when he learns that he will be providing legal services to men on death row. A man says that he fought in Vietnam and came back very sick after seeing many of his friends die; we hear that he was discharged and that he has nightmares and panic attacks and that he attempted suicide. A man talks about how it feels to be “guilty from the moment you’re born.” A man says that another man will make a lot of people unhappy if he pursues reopening a murder case. A man talks about committing “political suicide.” A man talks about fearing repercussions if he signs a statement that says the testimony of another man was untrue. A man talks about having been threatened with death if he did not say that he witnessed a man murdering a young woman. A man says that his grandfather was murdered over a television. A woman says that she expected she would lose friends over what she is doing but not that her family would be threatened. A man tells his lawyer, “I’m gonna need you to train someone else in case they take you out.” A man talks about refusing to frame an innocent man. A man talks about having been burned as a child and we see that he has burn scars on his face and neck; the man describes the smell of burning flesh and remembers the smell when another man was executed in the electric chair. We hear that a police officer was fired for not being willing to lie about evidence at a crime scene. A man talks about the South, slavery and lynching African-American people.
 A man tells an incarcerated man in a prison visitation room that he is not at risk of execution within the next year and the incarcerated man becomes emotional. A man tells another man that he has “white boy status,” for going to law school at Harvard. There are several references to lynching and a woman expresses her fear for her son’s life as he prepares to go to Alabama. A man says that men on death row deserve to die. A man asks another man to pray with him before being taken to his execution.
 Several scenes show men in cells on death row awaiting their execution date. Several scenes show men in chains and shackles as they move through a prison or into transportation vehicles. A couple of scenes show incarcerated men working in fields outside the prison.


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Just Mercy LANGUAGE 5

 – About 1 F-word derivative, 15 scatological terms, 4 anatomical terms, 17 mild obscenities, 6 derogatory terms for African-Americans, name-calling (racist, mad dogs, pitiful, old, ancient, fool, horrific, stupid, boy, crazy white man, bigot), exclamations (shut your mouth), 1 religious profanity (GD), 8 religious exclamations (e.g. God Is Good, Thank God, Amen, Jesus, Lord, God Knows, Holy [scatological term deleted]). | profanity glossary |


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Just Mercy SUBSTANCE USE

 – Two people drink beer in a home. A woman smokes cigarettes in a few scenes.


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Just Mercy DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Racism, systemic racism, the death penalty, poverty, justice, injustice, perjury, truth, bigotry, NAACP, sexual abuse, witness intimidation, rehabilitation, corruption, PTSD, Vietnam veterans, inadequate legal representation, infidelity, civil rights, attempted suicide, Harper Lee, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Just Mercy MESSAGE

 – Fighting for the people that need the most help is true justice.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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