Steve Says Denzel Shines In ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.

Share Button

Denzel Washington. One of, if not my favorite actors alive today. He has been part of some masterpieces such as Malcolm X, Inside Man, Fences and John Q. He has been the glue that has held the not-so-masterpieces together like Deja Vu and The Book of Eli together. In short, he is one of the Godfathers of the big screen. This time he is teaming up with Dan Gilroy who has been apart of films like Nightcrawler (Great), Kong: Skull Island (Great), The Bourne Legacy (meh) and Real Steel (White. Hot. Garbage) in one form or another. Add Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo to the mix and we’ve got ourselves a nice little group of people to make a film. Let’s see how that works out for them.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Denzel Washington) is a behind the scenes attorney that works at a law office in Los Angeles. He is the guy that does all of the legwork and it’s the firms namesake that handles everything in the courtroom and face to face with the clients. After the boss suffers a heart attack, Israel is asked to step up to the plate and handle all of the business of the day. He is told to simply ask for continuances for each of the clients on the docket. It is here where we learn that Israel is a pretty quirky individual. He decides that he will request pleas and ask for deals without necessarily speaking to the clients or ask for continuances as he was told to do. It is clear to see why he had been a behind the scenes guy. It is also clear to see why it is decided that the firm will shut down and why they bring in a guy by the name of George Pierce (Colin Farrell) to handle the last batch of cases and to finalize the closing of the firm.

Now that the firm has closed, Israel needs to find some work. He even goes so far as to go to a local non-profit organization and that is where he meets Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo). They form a lasting (albeit weird) relationship. The weirdness is all on Israel as he is one of the most OCD people I have ever come across (big screen or in person). We are talking about a man that has memorized (word for word) certain laws and can recite them out loud. He has taken notes over the years on index cards instead of on a computer and he can tell you what case he was working on exactly 8 years, 4 months and 27 days ago. Combine all of that with his lack of a filter and you’ve got yourself quite a character. The thing about him is that he legitimately cares about his clients and he hates for them to take a plea bargain just because the alternative is even more scary. His mix of caring and obvious OCD might just lead him down a road he’s never been on.

Denzel once again shines and if anyone is to find an issue with this one, it is certainly not the performance of Denzel. The character that Gilroy came up with and that Denzel plays is fantastic. He is quirky, funny and without a filter and as a lawyer that is a pretty hectic combination. Farrell also does a damn good job as does Ejogo. In the end, we are dealing with a very important issue facing this country and some will say this film doesn’t take it as far as it could have. I think it took it far enough, but I can see where it could have taken some more chances with the story. All in all, you will have an entertaining (and sometimes funny) 2 hours and 9 minutes at the theater.

Final Word