Saturday, November 25, 2017

Movie Review: Roman Israel, Esq.

Denzel Washington's new movie, Roman Israel, Esq. (Esquire), is about a noble lawyer who spent his life helping the poor with legal defense.  His character is developed early on-genius memory, bad social skills, and a set of values only found in serious activists.  He works for a legal "legend" who ends up dying.  The firm dies with his boss and Roman is out of a job.  Collin Farrell (George) steps in to dissolve the firm.  He knew Roman's boss and had once admired the man's idealism while he was in law school.  Out of guilt or kindness, he offers Roman a job at his swanky law firm.  At first Roman refuses, but quickly learns he does not have any other options.  He is given a client who was in on a robbery/murder.  The defendant tells Roman that he will turn over the gang-banger shooter in exchange for a deal.  There is also a 100K reward for anyone who can lead the police to the shooter.  Long story short: Roman gives into temptation and ends up paying for it.

My Review: First of all, I love Denzel Washington, so it's hard to be completely objective in reviewing his movies.  Fallen, Training Day, American Gangster, and Inside Man are some of my many faves.  As usual, he gives a fine performance and you quickly forget that he is Denzel-a major movie star who has graced the screen dozens of times.  Roman Israel is quite a character.  What I find most interesting was Roman's ability to throw away a set of values he held onto so dearly for the majority of his life.  The turning points in the movie are when he is disrespected by a group of young people while guest speaking at an ACLU-type of organization and then getting beat-up by a homeless person for not giving him money.  It's kind of like a "why am helping these ingrates" moment.  He begins to 'give up' on the poor segment on society that he once championed.  Now that he is older, broke, and forgotten, he breaks all ethics and sells out his now-dead client by anonymously ratting out the gunman/gangbanger of the store for the 100K reward mentioned earlier.  the money temporarily changes him.  He buys new suits and moves to an upscale apartment building.  Karma puts him in front of the man he anonymously turned in.  The man knows that Roman was the reason he got caught.  Roman gets shot at the end, but his legacy isn't entirely forgotten.  He worked on a brief about problems with the legal system, specifically that our trial system has been replaced with deal swapping.  So I guess in the end he did make a difference.  However, the movie leaves you with many deep questions.  I really liked all of the themes going on as well as the story.  The acting was spot on and the story was original.  4.5/5 Stars

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