Roman J. Israel, Esq. Review
The Story/The Direction:
This film is about a lawyer named Roman J. Israel (Washington) who has been fighting for the forgotten behind the scenes. He is essentially the Rain Main of the legal world as he has memorized the number of every single statute and it is hinted that he has some form of Asperger's. His partner is the one who takes the credit but he also does some shady stuff that Israel does not know about including that their firm is broke. He then has to go against his morals and join a large firm to get money. Gilroy attempts to tap into this totally fictional character and give us another film similar to that of Nightcrawler. There is some intrigue for the character who is looked down upon earlier on in the film but then that changes over the course of the film.
The main draw to this film is Washington as Israel and he does a decent job. He is obsessive-compulsive, socially inept, and brilliant lawyer but just never set foot in a courtroom. Washington is not surprisingly strong in this role as his supporting cast member of Farrell as George. George is the lawyer who was put in charge of Israel's partner's things after he passed. He eventually gives Israel the job at the big firm and their relationship is the basic focus of the film. Their scenes together are good as you get to see their respective values rubbing off on each other. Roman also develops a romantic relationship with Maya (Ejogo) who has been somewhat obsessed with Roman for his moral commitment to helping the forgotten and oppressed.
The main problem with this film is that the script gives you no reason to care about the story. It's a 100% fictional story and normally that would be okay as long as the story is gripping and keeps the viewer engaged. However, that is not the case as the mediocre script does not give the story any intensity. What's even more sad about this is that there are probably more interesting TRUE stories that exist in the world that Gilroy could have told. The script is honestly confusing at times on why Roman, himself, should be cared about. He sells out his morals and at times not the best person for the job but because he has been fighting for the little guy for so long and he is a potential savant, he is given a pass on these things. His relationship with Maya is also fairly forgettable for two reasons. One, because its honestly a little creepy as the reason for her attraction is an obsession with Roman's work. This seems odd as well as the overacted scene in the restaurant. How he sells out his morals is spoiler territory but it does not make sense and thus make the ending underwhelming.
Though Washington gives a strong performance, this film is definitely on the lower end of his career. The film is fairly forgettable due to the script that has multiple twists and turns that do not really make that much sense. The script by Gilroy is nowhere near as good as Nightcrawler. Readers will probably ask themselves, "Why?" after watching this unnecessary film. If you want to see a good Washington performance, you may get some enjoyment out of this film. However, his performance is at the same level of other performances that occur in much better films so you should watch those instead.
Rating: 1.5/5.0 bowties
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