Movie Review: ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ Starring Denzel Washington

Actor Denzel Washington

Except for his role as Troy Maxon in Fences and 2012’s Flight, Denzel Washington‘s recent roles didn’t seem to be all that challenging. They’ve all been fun to watch, sure, but he could’ve done those recent roles in his sleep.  But as Roman J. Israel, he takes on his most difficult role to date and leaves no doubt that he’s one of the best actors working today.

Israel is an on-the-spectrum lawyer with a brilliant legal mind. He’s like a one-man legal Google, only faster. For years, he’s been a partner in a law firm where he’s been the behind-the-scenes guy. But when his partner has a massive heart attack, the firm must close and he’s forced to find another job.

George Pierce (Colin Farrell), a big time lawyer from a big time Los Angeles firm has been tasked to take over the remaining clients and has offered Israel a position, which reluctantly, he eventually takes. He soon finds success in the firm but that doesn’t stop him from going back to a case he was working on before the death of his partner. The client was accused of murder but was adamant that he didn’t do it. Israel attempts to make things right but for once his brilliance doesn’t help him.

As good as Washington is here, and he is absolutely terrific, the film has some small drawbacks. Mainly, it takes its time to get to where it wants to go. The film could have easily wrapped up in an hour and ½, much shorter than it’s a 2-hour run time.

And you won’t really know the actual plot of the film until the last half hour and then it wraps up pretty quickly after that.

Besides the meandering story, one thing that was odd is that whole story takes place in three weeks. Playing with timeline in films is normal, but this stretches it pretty thin. In 2-weeks, he loses his longtime employment, gets a new job where people immediately don’t like him, moves into a fancy new apartment and becomes an incredible asset to his new firm. There are plenty of other things that happen in the timeline but that would give details away. But still, that’s a lot to happen to someone in three weeks.

All this aside, the film is really just a showcase for Denzel Washington’s fantastic performance. It’s a good bet that writer/director Dan Gilroy couldn’t bear to leave Washington’s performance on the cutting room floor and after you see it, you’ll understand why.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Linnea-Berthelsen-Stranger-Things.jpg
Linnea Berthelse on Her ‘Stranger Things’ Audition and Keeping Her Role a Secret for a Year
“Sometimes when actors don’t get the part, it’s not always about an actor being a bad actor; it’s about connecting to the material.” – ...
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/jonathan-groff-hamilton.jpg
Jonathan Groff on Playing King George III in ‘Hamilton’: “I rehearsed for about a day, and then went into the show”
Can you even imagine stepping into a role in one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time with barely any time to prepare?
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lina-esco-swat.jpg
Lina Esco on Playing the Only Female Officer on ‘S.W.AT.’: “I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team”
"The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her" - Lina Esco
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sam-rockwell-three-billboards.jpg
Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions
"I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll" - Sam Rockwell
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend.jpg
Rachel Bloom: “The way that I learned comedy was not rigid, but this very specific technique taught by the Upright Citizens Brigade”
"I went from being a person who was doing moderately successful videos online and working as a moderately successful TV writer and aspiring to do this to having a Golden Globe." - Rachel Bloom