Free State of Jones tells the true story of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a disillusioned Confederate army deserter returns to Mississippi and leads a militia of fellow deserters, runaway slaves, and women in an uprising against the corrupt local Confederate government.
Free State of Jones is definitely not as bad as critics say it is. It tells a very eye-opening tale about the Civil War that’s quite an important lesson and I’m glad it was told through a film. The story of Newton Knight leading an army of fugitives, most of which were runaway black slaves, against the Confederate government, is a very interesting story and I’m glad I learned about this through this film. There are some gerat scenes that are put to film here and it’s all done very powerfully and realistically. The movie’s trailer made it look like the film would be driven by lengthy action sequences and shootouts, but there are really only a few, as the majority of the scenes use only dialogue to carry the plot. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m just warning you that the trailer does not transmit the movie’s tone well, so don’t buy a ticket thinking that it’s Saving Private Ryan in the Civil War, as it’s much more of a Schindler’s List type of film, and I was actually glad that was the case. Matthew McConaughey is amusing in the film’s lead role, delivering lots of great dialogue, emotional scenes, and although he doesn’t completely blend into the role, I could tell that he gave the part his best.
Although the movie’s performances and historical messages are quite effective, other aspects of this film aren’t. The runtime drags on and on at many points, and there are parts at the end of the movie where it runs out of things to talk about, and just stretches its length aimlessly. Like I said before, the movie puts some great scenery to film, but unfortunately the cinematography does not capture it all very well. The camera is too shaky and not often pointed in the right angles in order to enhance the story. Cinematography is very important to me when it comes to watching films, and this film’s camerawork felt very lousy and unfocused. The editing within scenes was occasionally disruptive, as the cuts within scenes were way too fast and sometimes unnecessary. There isn’t enough consistent substance besides the film’s historical merit that makes it worth a trip to the theaters. If you want to see this movie for an interesting history lecture, then you may want it check it out (not necessarily on the big screen), but otherwise it’s not worth the trip to the theaters unless you want to see another great leading performance from Matthew McConaughey. If you do want to watch this, I’d recommend it for teens 14-15 and up, as it may be too tough for younger viewers to take in and/or watch.