R rated

I was really looking forward to “Free State of Jones.” I love history and movies based on real life events. Unfortunately, the film is extremely disjointed, very brutal and hard to follow. Although the subject matter is very important, the presentation leaves much to be desired.

Set during the Civil War, “Free State of Jones” is the saga of a defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight,(Matthew McConaughey) and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together other small farmers, Confederate deserters and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating the Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the Civil War.

The Acting is flawless. McConaughey is surrounded by an excellent cast. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Rachel. Keri Russell is Knights wife. Serena, Mahershala Ali is excellent as Moses and Christopher Berry is Jasper Collins.

The story is by Leonard Hartman and the screenplay is by Gary Ross. Ross is an outstanding writer whose past achievements include “Big,” “Dave,” and “Seabiscuit” to name just a few. Unfortunately, Ross tries to cram too much into one movie. He should have focused the movie on only the events that occurred during the war.

Ross directed “Free State of Jones.”

There is a little too much realism in the film for many. There are battle scenes and hospital scenes that are extremely bloody and gory.

Besides being hard to follow at times, this film would have been so much better if about 30 minutes of film would have ended up on the cutting room floor. Sometimes when the screenwriter is also the Director, they fall in love with everything they wrote and filmed and don’t know what to cut out.

Save your money and wait for this to show up on television.

“Free State of Jones” opens Friday at AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12.