Roman J. Israel, Esq. 1.0 stars

Roman J. Israel, Esq. movie poster

We open on our titular character reading along with an affidavit as it is spelled out across the screen, a thudding note of cinematic redundancy that sets the tone for what was to follow. Denzel is great, Denzel is good, let us honor Him with sainthood. The Equalizer brought him close to the edge, but Denzel Washington is one of the few respectable actors yet to embarrass himself onscreen. With an afro poking above his computer monitor and a shelving unit sticking out the rear end of his suit coat, he unflinchingly owns the presence and tenor of the reluctant litigator. One entered expected so much from writer-director Dan Gilroy and cinematographer Robert Elswit, the the creative team behind Nightcrawler. That film set the recent bar for transforming a city (Los Angeles at night) into a character. Israel is all talk (and talk, and talk) and no show. It didn’t help that the camera was positioned so far up Denzel’s nose that I felt like a dust mite. 2017.

Scott Marks


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