Roman J. Israel, Esq.

(2017)

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Title:
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Release Date:
10th November 2017
Runtime:
129 min
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Genres:
Directors:
Dan Gilroy
Writers:
Dan Gilroy
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Hard-nosed liberal lawyer Roman J. Israel has been fighting the good fight forever while others take the credit. When his partner, the firm’s frontman, has a heart attack, Israel suddenly takes on that role. He soon discovers some unsettling truths about the firm--truths that conflict with his values of helping the poor and dispossessed--and finds himself in an existential crisis that leads to extreme actions.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 52%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 68%
IMDb Rating 6.3

Casts

Amanda Warren as Lynn Jackson
Carmen Ejogo as Maya Alston
Colin Farrell as George Pierce
Denzel Washington as Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Lynda Gravatt as Vernita Wells

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Quietb-1 27th November, 2017

Too much of a good actor.

Denzel Washington tries to carry this movie on his back. He is in every scene. The movie is way to long and way too dialogue driven. It's another example of written and directed by going wrong. There are too many walk and talks. Sit and talks. Characters make long speeches and usually say nothing. After about an hour and a half there's an incident that creates a bit of suspense and finally makes things interesting. Problem it is too little too late. Maybe Denzel gets a Golden Globe nomination more for a body of work rather then this performance of mostly adjusting his glasses. That bit of business becomes distracting and almost laughable. There is no need to see this on the big screen. It will play just as talky in the comfort of your own home. Perhaps at home you can fast forward and move things along.

Reviewed by rgkarim 23rd November, 2017

To See, or Not To see.... That is the Question.

The legendary Denzel Washington is associated with so many legendary roles that will forever live in the hearts of millions. And like many people, when I see he a movie of his about to release, I get excited I'm in store for another masterpiece. Enter Roman J. Israel Esq, a movie that from the trailers, held potential to be an interesting biography of a powerful legal, pro- action character that was certain to stir up trouble. Will it be powerfully emotional to fill your eyes to the brim with tears, or something else? Robbie K here to give you some insight into yet another movie this holiday season, let's get started. LIKES: The Message: Never say that a Denzel movie doesn't deliver a powerful punch in the emotional level. Roman J. Israel Esq, is another visual tribute to the topic of truth, honor, and the moral obligations of justice. The whole movie portrays the struggle of holding on to your beliefs vs. diving into the acceptable flow the public/society deems normal. We all have breaking points that push us into new areas and test our fortitude, the question is where does one cross the line and how far do they leap over it. Roman's tale shows the challenge quite well and more so what can happen when pushes the boundaries too far. It will get you thinking and perhaps question your own philosophies, assuming you can get past the other parts of this movie. The Acting…kind of: Denzel still has his acting skills down pat. He portrays the awkward character quite well, capturing the serious thoughts, the quirky mannerisms, and even the speech patterns necessary for portraying the mind within. Even more impressive though, is how well he acts out the struggles of the high stakes choices that bear heavy on his mind. At times, one can feel the weight of the decisions bearing down on them, the anxiety of making the wrong choice radiating out in the sequences. His supporting cast helps open up more dilemmas to tax him, but can't say they have the most involvement in the town. The Music: The soundtrack is not the most toe tapping number, but one can appreciate the soul behind the songs selected for this movie. There selections were choice representations of the tone of the scene, sort of artistically symbolizing Rowan's mood and his answer to the current obstacles that plague him. It's a dynamic track list that constantly changes between genres, and fits so well into much of the movie, while perhaps bringing back some nostalgia for other fans. DISLIKES: The weaker character moments: Despite all the quarks Denzel got, his character isn't the most engaging or magical of the roles he has played. Past the morals he boasts, Roman just doesn't have a lot to him. He was a fairly flat character, with disinterest seeming to ooze from Denzel during much of the performance, almost like he had to really push himself to play the part. I had a hard time caring about him, the potential the trailers building failing to live up as Roman continued to just shrug more and more of the qualities I looked for. A redeeming moment at the end got the steam going, but by then it was too late and the movie was over. It also doesn't help that the supporting character actors don't seem too excited in their roles, and are just as mundane as some of Roman's personality. The characters just aren't engaged in the tale, and many aren't utilized to their full potential. Boring: The emotional trials are strong, the food for thought even more of a rewarding experience, but did the movie have to be so dull? While I never expected this film to be an action packed, guns blazing tale, I certainly didn't expect the movie to lack so much suspense. The plot didn't have enough edge, there wasn't enough action or peaceful protest, and the absence of any real villain just led to a very lackluster tale. I had to fight sleep a couple of times in this movie, though it could be due to the long work day, but a Denzel Movie is usually more charged than what I was presented. Which brings me to my next dislike… Ambiguous: The movie's biggest problem for me was how aimless the plot was. The writers didn't seem to figure out which way they wanted to take the film, is a piece about being an activist, is it a biography, is it a crime/drama? I couldn't quite figure out the myself, but they settled on a little bit of everything, but didn't hit the high-quality components of the genres. The film could have used more crime/mystery to add the suspense, perhaps with a theme surrounding the hot political issues they try to cover, all showing the skills of the whomever Roman represented. I don't fell many will enjoy the approach they took, and the ambiguous story telling that was just stale and sad than anything else. The VERDICT: It held such potential, but Roman Israel Esq, just couldn't find its ground in the grand scheme of things. Denzel tried to do the heavy lifting, and accomplishes the messages of balancing morals, but outside of that lacks any big sustenance to him. In addition, the boring pace, weaker character interactions, and ambiguous plots, the movie just fails to provide the very justice it wanted to serve. Sad to see the legendary actor have a weaker film, but this reviewer encourages you to skip this movie and focus on the treasures that have already come out for your theater viewing pleasure, all while hoping Denzel will have another Oscar worthy film in the future. My scores: Crime/Drama: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0

Reviewed by Fletcher Conner 22nd November, 2017

A Character Study, but Not Much Else

Denzel Washington stars as Roman J. Israel, Esq. a mildly savant criminal defense attorney whose life is turned upside down when his longtime law partner passes away. Suddenly the passionate civil rights attorney who thanks to his fiery demeanor should stay far away from an actual courtroom, is left looking for a job. He is forced to settle for working for George Pierce (Colin Farrell) a successful defense attorney, whom Roman views as a profiteer who doesn't care about his clients. The entire ordeal breaks Roman, who sells out his ideals and loses sight of who he was. Denzel gives a good performance as the extremely passionate and slightly eccentric Roman J. Israel Esq., but Roman's penchant for long rambling speeches made for tedious viewing. Colin Farrell's Pierce develops into a much deeper character than he originally appears to be and is utilized well. However, while Roman's struggle to find his identity is the core of the film it never really is able to captivate. Ultimately the film settles in as an interesting character study that struggles to come together as anything more than that. While many would be content with that, it is a disappointing follow up for Dan Gilroy after his excellent debut with Nightcrawler.

Reviewed by David Ferguson ([email protected]) 21st November, 2017

Keep on Truckin'

Greetings again from the darkness. Denzel Washington is one of our most iconic actors and he's put together a remarkable career, including 8 Oscar nominations and two wins. He's had his Al Pacino SCARFACE comparable with TRAINING DAY, his Robert DeNiro GOODFELLAS comparable with American GANGSTER, and here he gets his Dustin Hoffman RAIN MAN as he plays the titular Roman J. Israel, Esquire. It's a role that lacks Denzel's usual cool factor, but it's one in which he dives head first. 'Esquire' rates "above gentleman, but below Knight" as described by Roman. He has spent more than 30 years as the wizard behind the curtain of a two man law firm run by his mentor and partner William "Bulldog" Jackson. We never really meet Mr. Jackson, as circumstances force the closing of the firm and shove an uncomfortable-with-change Roman into the high profile and high dollar firm run by George Pierce. Mr. Pierce is played by a strutting Colin Farrell – and no actor peacocks better than he. It's here we must note that Roman appears to have a touch of Asperger's and/or be some type of legal Savant. He's kind of a Dr. Gregory House for the legal profession – remarkable on the details, while lacking in the delivery. His long held idealism and belief system were in fine form while he was the back office guy, but Pierce forces him into the front lines and it's a bumpy transition with sometimes comic and sometimes tragic results. The film bookends with Roman crafting a legal brief, that while somewhat convoluted, is actually more of a confession, with himself as both plaintiff and defendant. Much of the film focuses on Roman's idealism and revolutionary beliefs, and what happens when that crumbles. There is an odd quasi-love interest with Maya, played by Carmen Ejogo (SELMA). We never really grasp why she is so taken by him, other than his seemingly solid belief system reminds her that a mission of goodness and justice is always worth fighting for. Writer/director Dan Gilroy is one of the quiet secret weapons in Hollywood these days. His last project was the terrific NIGHTCRAWLER, and he's also written the screenplays for this year's KONG: SKULL ISLAND, and one of my favorites from 2006, THE FALL. Here he teams with Oscar winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (THERE WILL BE BLOOD) to deliver a stylish look that feels unique to the story and characters … the frumpy look of Roman, the ultra-slick look of Pierce, and the various textures of the city. It's really something to behold – especially when accompanied by Roman's ringtone of Eddie Kendrick's "Keep on Truckin'". A couple of cast members worth mentioning: for you NBA fans, Sedale Threat Jr (son of the long time player), and simply for catching my eye in the closing credits, an actor named Just N. Time. There is plenty to discuss after this one, but mostly it's a chance to watch Denzel chew scenery.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 25th October, 2017

Surprisingly flat.

Back in 2014, Dan Gilroy made his first full-length film, NIGHTCRAWLER. For a freshman effort, it's truly amazing as it was one of the best films of the year and was a deeply disturbing but rewarding film to watch. Because of this, I was excited to see a preview showing of "Roman J. Israel Esquire" as the Philadelphia Film Festival. Plus, many were excited because Gilroy managed to get the services of Denzell Washington to star in this film. Sadly, the film was a bit of a disappointment. The film begins with Israel learning that his law partner has had a massive heart attack. This is a problem because they are the only two in the practice and Israel only works behind the scenes and the partner is the man who tries the cases in court. Apparently, Robert Israel is something like a person with Asperger's...as he has minimal people skills and looks like he's still living in 1975. At first, he seems nerdy and weird but good-hearted. Eventually, you come to realize he's a jerk-face...and that is where the film lost me. Having the lead be a total jerk down deep makes for hard viewing. A mildly interesting film at best and a huge disappointment.