Roman J. Israel, Esq Review

Roman J. Israel, Esq - Poster #1

Denzel Washington is easily one of the greatest actors of a generation. He’s shown countless times that he can be both a dramatic actor or an action star. Be that as it may, Denzel does tend to act similarly throughout his films. But Roman J. israel, Esq seems to be the type of film that remedies those criticisms. But does Denzel really switch it up, though?

Yes, he most certainly does. Roman J. Israel, Esq is Denzel at his finest. He’s given us something that we haven’t seen from him in quite a while. It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the film can’t live up to his performance.

Roman J. Israel, Esq follows Roman, an eccentric but driven defense attorney out in Los Angeles. But through a series of events, Roman’s life will never be the same.

Roman J. Israel, Esq - Carmen Ejogo and Denzel Washington

Roman J. Israel, Esq works primarily well as a character study. The way it focuses on a character’s struggles to fight the good fight is an intriguing concept. The only problem is that the film feels like two separate stories. Dan Gilroy wasn’t able to bring together both storylines cohesively. In other words, when it’s time for the other storyline to kick in then you’ll notice it right away. Not to mention, Roman’s personality does a 180 when it switches storylines too.

The way that Dan Gilroy tells the story of an outcast lawyer doing everything he can to help his fellow man. That’s what works well in this film. It’s commentary on the American prison system is enlightening and shocking. On the other hand, when Roman’s moral compass comes into play that when things start to go downhill. You begin to root for him then you begin to dislike what he’s becoming. Separately, either story would work. But Gilroy never figures out how to feed off from each other.

Be that as it may, it is refreshing to see a character drama with such an interesting character. Roman’s interactions with everyone is pretty engaging. Especially since Roman is a bit autistic. In addition, it’s also refreshing to see lawyers in a non-bloodsucking fashion. Those you think are blood sucking leeches actually has a good heart in them. See? Not all lawyers are evil after all.

Roman J. Israel, Esq - Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell

Of course, the film wouldn’t work at all if it weren’t for Denzel’s performance. As much as I love and respect him as an actor, each role he’s been in is essentially the same. Except for a certain change here and there. Roman J. Israel, Esq, though, is something completely different than what we’ve been accustomed to. It was a wonderful delight to see Denzel on screen in this role. One could even argue that this is his best performance in years.

At the same time, Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo does a fantastic job as Denzel’s supporting cast mates. The only problem is that their characters never fully develop during the film. They’re just two sides of the same coin. However, the film feels as if it works when the film focuses on Farrell’s character. His character undergoes a big character transformation next to Roman himself. Whereas with Ejogo’s character, she doesn’t really develop throughout the film.

Overall, Roman J. Israel, Esq is a great character drama despite the story issues. It’s the type of film that reminds audiences what kind of special talent we have with Denzel Washington. It would be a total shock if Denzel doesn’t get any Best Actor nominations during awards season. He was THAT good.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

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