'Free State of Jones' a Good History Lesson, Poor Movie | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

'Free State of Jones' a Good History Lesson, Poor Movie



    NBC 5 movie critic Gary Cogill says "Free State of Jones," starring Matthew McConaughey, is a terrific history lesson, that will make you want to learn more, but it's an uneven film that may have been better made into a miniseries. (Published Friday, June 24, 2016)

    "Free State of Jones" is based on a little-known story that took place during the Civil War and, as a history lesson, it's terrific, as a film-going experience, it's not.

    "Free State Of Jones" is an uneven film starring Texas actor Matthew McConaughey. He plays Newton Knight, a poor Mississippi farmer fighting for the South in 1862 who eventually deserts and forms his own multi-cultural militia to fight "against" the rebels.

    It's an amazing story about a man who has seen enough and he's not going to take it any more.

    McConaughey is quite good in "Free State of Jones," he is the centerpiece, but there are so many others around him deserving of equal attention and the film only skims their surface.

    There is also a complicated sadness to this film and it's like watching the Cliff Notes version instead of the real thing.

    "Free State Of Jones" is written and directed by Gary Ross. He directed "Seabiscuit" and "The Hunger Games," both better films.

    His latest begs to be a smartened-up mini series rather than a feature film because it takes time to develop quality characters. His movie is earnest, but there is an obvious emotional disconnect.

    "Free State Of Jones" is rated R and runs a surprisingly slow two hours and 19 minutes. As a history lesson it has my attention and makes me want to learn more. As a movie, I expected more.