Free State of Jones (2016)
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.
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Leonard Hartman (story), Gary Ross
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali
Thomas Francis Murphy as Elias Hood
Ali and Mbatha-Raw are given enough room to develop personas independent of Knight that there’s little hint of the expected white-savior complex. But except for Thomas Francis Murphy’s silky work as a sneering Confederate villain, few of the secondary characters register. Subplots like Knight’s living simultaneously with Rachel and his estranged first wife Serena (Keri Russell) that could have alone made their own films are only barely sketched in.
The terrific character actor Thomas Francis Murphy (“12 Years a Slave,” “Focus,” “Self/Less”) brings a Donald Sutherland-esque, casually slithery villainous touch to the role of the Confederate commander who counters Newton’s rebellion by hanging children and burning down farms.
They fight and win. And keep winning, even staging a surprise attack on the Confederate forces at a funeral, where Knight pursues and kills the rebel commander (brilliantly played by Thomas Francis Murphy).
Thomas Francis Murphy is despicable as the villain Elias Hood, the Confederate commander who causes unnecessary tragedy.
The movie also features stellar work by Gugu Mbatha Raw, Maherhsala Ali, Keri Russell, Christopher Berry, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, and Thomas Francis Murphy. Despite the flaws and limitations of the film the actors absolutely shine and deliver performances worthy of a better film.
Thomas Francis Murphy is formidable as the Confederate commander who opposes Knight, and Keri Russell is a welcome presence as Knight's wife but has little to do.