Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy,” the animated spy flick “Spies in Disguise” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the latest remake of “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
When we first meet Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), known to friends and family as Johnny D, he’s in his element, in the woods chopping down a tree as part of his pulping business. The calm and serenity of his life is soon uprooted by Alabama lawman Sheriff Tate (Michael Harding). What at first seems to be a routine stop takes a turn when Tate snarls, “You wanna make a break for it? ‘Cuz after what you did I’m happy to end this now.”
Those words kick off the action in “Just Mercy,” a based-on-life-events legal drama starring Foxx and Michael B. Jordan. Johnny D is sent to death row even before he is tried and convicted of the murder of an eighteen-year-old local girl. “You don’t know what it’s like down here when you are guilty since you were born,” he says.
After languishing in a tiny cell near the prison’s “death room” for several years Johnny D is visited by Harvard-trained civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan). The former church pianist is an idealistic young man, new to the profession but fueled by a passion to fight injustice. “I wanted to become a lawyer to help people,” he says. Moving to Monroeville, Alabama—where Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird”—he sets up the Equal Justice Initiative with the aid of Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) with an eye toward undoing wrongs.
It’s a daunting task. On his first visit to the prison he is illegally strip searched by a leering guard on his way in. Worse, the community sees him as someone who wants to put convicted killers back on the street. He deals with death threats, witness intimidation and racism but the biggest hurdle comes down to one cold, hard fact. “You know how many people been freed from Alabama death row?” asks Johnny D. “None.”
Working against the odds Stevenson begins a campaign to expose the corruption that landed his innocent client in jail. “Whatever you did your life is still meaningful,” he says, “and I’m going to do everything I can to stop them from taking it.”
“Just Mercy” does a good job in setting up the obstacles Stevenson encounters on his search for the truth. The film could be criticized for director Destin Daniel Cretton’s traditional, linear approach but the entrenched racism and systemic resistance to change Stevenson deals with are undeniably powerful indictments of a legal system that favors the establishment over everyone else.
Bringing the tale of injustice to life are formidable but understated performances from the core cast. Jordan and Foxx keep the theatrics to a minimum. As Stevenson, Jordan is all business, driven by personal passion but bound by his professional attitude. Foxx is stoic, a man who has lost all hope. When his case takes a turn the change in his body language is a subtle reminder that his attitude has shifted.
Equally as strong are the supporting players. As death row inmate Herbert Richardson, Rob Morgan brings vulnerability to the kind of character who is so often portrayed as a one-dimensional stereotype.
The film’s showiest performance comes from Tim Blake Nelson as a man tormented by his role in Johnny D’s wrongful conviction. His face contorted and scarred he gives the character an arc within his relatively short time on screen.
What “Just Mercy” lacks in flashy storytelling it makes up for in its earnest examination of injustice and discrimination.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Beverly Thomson have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Men in Black: International,” “Late Night” and the documentaries “There Are No Fakes” and “Watergate.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at “Men in Black: International,” “Late Night” and the documentary “There Are No Fakes” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Men in Black: International” with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson stepping in for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, “Late Night,” starring Mindy J+Kaling and Emma Thompson and the documentaries “Watergate” and “There Are No Fakes” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
This week “The Avengers,” well, at least one of them, aren’t saving the world. Instead Thor portrayer Chris Hemsworth sets his sights a little lower, breathing new life into the flailing “Men in Black” franchise. Twenty-two years after the original hit film and a few years after a cancelled third sequel he’s joined by Marvel Universe citizens, “Avengers: Endgame’s” Tessa Thompson and “Iron Man” writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum. The question is, Can the mighty Marvel alumni bring some of their magic to a different universe?
This reboot keeps the basics of the franchise. There are still loads of chatty aliens, Emma Thompson returns and the Men in Black remain a nattily dressed but top-secret organization that monitors and polices alien activity on Earth. They’ve managed to stay undercover for decades by the use of a neuralyzer, a device that erases the memories of those who witness their efforts to keep the world safe from alien attack. It’s a failsafe but in at least one case it isn’t entirely effective. In a flashback we see a family, including a young girl named Molly (Mandeiya Flory), neuralyzed after an incident.
Cut to present day. Now grown up Molly (now played by (Thompson) is about to realize her life-long dream, to become part of the best kept secret in the universe. “It took me twenty years to find you” she says to Agent O (Emma Thompson) head of MIB’s US branch. “I found you which makes me perfect for this job.” Dubbed Agent M, she is assigned to the UK branch, headed by High T (Liam Neeson) and teamed with Agent H (Hemsworth), her mission is to root out the biggest MIB threat yet, a mole in the organization. “We are the Men in Black,” says Agent H, “errr, the men and Women in Black.”
Unless there is a mass neuralization of audiences “Men in Black: International” will not make us forget the charms of the first “MIB” film. Director F. Gary Gray’s take on the film delivers actors with sparkling chemistry—Hemsworth and Thompson first lit up the screen in 2017s “Thor: Ragnarok” and continue to do so here—who elevate an otherwise unremarkable reboot of a well-loved franchise.
It has the earmarks of the original but, aside from Kumail Nanjiani as a tiny Marvin the Martian-esque alien named Pawny, there is nothing extra special about the extraterrestrials. For a movie about the “scum of the universe,” that seems like a missed opportunity. Nanjiani is provides some much need comic relief in the film’s last section but where is the creativity in the creature design?
Having said all that, despite the predictability of the plot, the chemistry on display makes “Men in Black: International” a fun, lightweight romp.