Movie Title: Roman J. Israel, Esq.
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 2 min.
Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo
Where did I watch it?: Home
Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a movie with a lot of wasted potential. The movie opens with Israel finding out that his law partner for 35 years has had a heart attack and is in a permanent vegetative state. The law firm has operated at a loss for decades and Israel is promptly out of a job. Israel is from the civil rights era. He advocated for clients in a time of oppression for African Americans and he has seemingly not evolved or seen the light of day a single time since then. His idiosyncracies are too idiosyncratic to be believable. He is openly hostile to practically everyone and socially inept to the point where it is fatal to his clients. He is too inept at his job to believe that he really even cares about the people he is defending. There is no practicality in Israel and to me that makes him unbelievable. He spouts a lot of philosophy all the while becoming disillusioned by the world, which is hard to believe because he has been fighting for social justice for 35 years.
After losing his job he goes to work for George Pierce (Colin Farrell) who is less scrupulous than his former employer. Israel also becomes involved with a civil rights group that is openly hostile to him when introduced. The groups manager Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo) falls for Israel hard. There are a lot of strange one offs in the plot that don’t go anywhere. Ultimately, Israel snaps and does something very out of character.
The second half is spent reconciling this decision. His behavior departs entirely from that of the character we met in the first half of the movie once again to the point of disbelief. Just like that, the world around him also radically changes. He becomes an appreciated member of the staff at work and his views are suddenly viewed as powerful and just instead of radical. The end can be seen coming a mile away and it is also ridiculous. Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo are utterly wasted in their small roles. They play boring characters that are basically just trying to be shocked by everything Israel does.
Despite a strong cast the movie is exceedingly poor. Denzel Washington’s character is not very interesting and I have no idea why they saw fit to nominate him for an Oscar for this. Skip it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Predator (1987)
Distance: 1 mile
A little bit better time today.