‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.,’ Good, but Lacks Focus
Length: 2h 9m
Rating: PG-13, some violence, and language.
Roman J. Israel, Esq., starring Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, and Carmen Ejogo, released this Thanksgiving weekend. How it performs at the box office remains to be seen, especially with Coco already leading the pack, but the film should see some moderate success.
Denzel Washington plays this movie’s namesake, Roman J. Israel, Esq., emphasis on the Esquire. Israel is an aging defense attorney in Los Angeles who is still holding onto the ideas of the Civil Rights movement, which is when he first started getting involved and launched his career. Because of his commitment, Israel has never been a man with much money and has never sought recognition or glory for his work. His focus on civil rights, the injustices of the criminal justice system, and wanting the system to be better are admirable traits and they come up often during the story.
Amid the closing of the firm he works with, the failing health of his partner, and the frustration of not being able to get back to his roots, Israel decides to take up an offer made by Colin Farrell’s character, George Pierce. In doing so, Roman J. Israel, Esq. must now make some difficult decisions and realizes that he may be compromising the values he has lived his life by. How he deals with these decisions, and what he actually decides to do, takes up the majority of the film.
While this film makes for a good night out and has some exciting moments, it fails to explore a single issue in depth and making that the focus of the film. Different tangents are brought up throughout the story, but we never see them fully explored. The audience is left to wonder what happened in some cases.
Even with the lack of story development, I recommend watching Roman J. Israel, Esq. It’s an entertaining movie, Denzel Washington does a good job of portraying his character and there are some exciting moments that will grab your attention.
This review was crossposted with Salt Lake Film Review