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Free State of Jones
BLU-RAY disk
09.27.2016 By: Sean Wist
Free State of Jones order download
Director:
Gary Ross

Actors:
Matthew McConaughey
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Mahershala Ali

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A deserter of the Confederate army returns home and leads a militia against the local, corrupt government.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Remember The Patriot? Yeah, of course you do. It's one of Roland Emmerich's more grounded efforts and despite the factual inaccuracies, it's an entertaining flick. Well, Free State of Jones is a lot like that, except it's more serious and not as much fun. That may not suffice as a legitimate review, so let's jump into some of the details.

The film's first act is its strongest, thrusting the viewer right into the midst of the Civil War. Confederate soldiers start losing limbs and Matthew McConaughey, playing real-life hero Newton Knight, comes in to rescue his fellow mates. It's not long for the audience or his character to come to the realization that this war seems fruitless, and so Newton heads home to Mississippi. There he starts a militia with other deserters and slaves on the run in an effort to create a free state . . . of Jones.

Unsurprisingly, McConaughey (and his co-stars) give some really fantastic performances. Thanks to the cast, a lot of the hard-hitting moments on display feel raw and genuine. Sadly, there's not many of those moments for the actors to really sink their teeth into. As the film trudges along, the story loses its focus and its urgency, eventually making way for title cards to pop up and say, "Oh yeah, now this is happening." It feels lazy.

To further exacerbate things, the story will sporadically jump to the 1940s, where an ancestor of Newton Knight’s is on trial for miscegenation. I get the effort to show a similar battle in a different time, but it feels like an afterthought that doesn't really have an emotional payoff. All of this results in a movie that meanders around for nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes, occasionally showing off some cinematic proficiency before returning to a free state of forgetfulness.
THE EXTRAS
The History of Jones County (18:01): The only special feature on this Blu-ray proves to be more entertaining than the actual feature. Here some of the actual Jones residents discuss the real events behind the film and the legacy Newton Knight left behind.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Free State of Jones, simply put, is mediocre. It's well-made and well-acted, but mediocre none-the-less. Unless you're a history buff or really love to watch Matthew McConaughey do his thing (of which I wouldn't blame you), I'd consider this one a rental at best.
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