Playing a real-life outlaw hero, Matthew McConaughey is on charismatic, rabble-rousing form in Free State of Jones, an epic civil war drama based on a little known episode from American history.
A principled deserter from the Confederate army, Newton Knight leads an uprising of poor white farmers and runaway slaves from his hideout in the Mississippi swamps, outwitting his foes with fearless guerrilla cunning while advancing the cause of social reform.
Going from the height of the civil war to its turbulent aftermath, the movie undoubtedly sprawls, but McConaughey’s burning zeal holds our attention and the battle scenes have fierce immediacy. Mahershala Ali as Knight’s escaped slave ally and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the defiant house slave who becomes his wife provide riveting support.
Certificate 15. Runtime 137 mins. Director Gary Ross
Free State of Jones is available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from StudioCanal.