Roman J. Israel, Esq. - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Roman J. Israel, Esq. Reviews

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½ August 2, 2018
Denzel Washington's performance is more than enough to make this movie great. Colin Farrell did quite well as a supporting actor. The story is very captivating.
July 29, 2018
Watched on the flight home from Spain on 7/21, this film was worth the watch mostly because of Denzel Washington's stellar performance, which is what one expects from this legendary American actor. The story does a good job depicting the range of life, and how even someone who has worked their entire life for social justice can get caught up in illicit activities that jeopardize more than just his own standing.
½ July 28, 2018
Almost a good film, Roman J. Israel is elevated by Denzel's performance. One of the deleted scenes on the DVD shouldn't have been deleted... it explains Roman J. Israel's motivation for the big, fateful choice he makes, that otherwise seems out of character. Otherwise, I think we want to like this movie, because we identify with Israel's deep desire to do what's right while at the same time, despite his other estimable talents, having a less admirable talent for screwing up what he's trying to accomplish by being incapable of compromising even enough to know when to keep his trap shut.

The film is a bit confusing. Israel spouts what seem to be grand ideas, but the characters he's spouting to don't quite understand him, nor do we as the audience. We sort of get it, or at least we sense that what he is trying to say isn't just confused mutterings; it does have meaning to him even though he can't articulate it in terms that we can fully understand. And there are a couple of characters who feel the same way. They may not understand some of the things he's trying to convey, but they come to realize that, if they listen and give him a chance, his ideas are rare and extremely valuable. Maybe the entire, confusing film is a metaphor itself, for the character of Roman J. Israel. We don't quite understand its message, but we sense that it has something to say, even if it's not sure how articulate it to us. Maybe that's a metaphor for the way many of us live our lives. We struggle to articulate (even to ourselves) the things that we believe in and that give our lives meaning.

Another thing, which I suppose could be a mild spoiler. I prefer to discover such moments for myself, but the scene where Roman visits an activist group's offices, in hopes of finding a job that will be meaningful to him, is a spectacular piece of acting by Denzel. The camera gives him a little space; it doesn't give him a closeup so he can show off. After giving a heartfelt (and sometimes dick-ish) speech about the kind of activism that can affect change, the character realizes that this meeting is not going the way he had hoped, Perhaps he realizes that some of the things he said were unkind. Denzel chooses to cover his mouth with his hand. At first, we think that it's another of the characters quirky behaviors. But what we come to realize as the scene plays out, is that he realizes that he is losing control of his emotions. Any of us who has experienced this knows the tension one feels around the mouth. We try to hide it by relaxing our facial muscles. But the socially awkward Israel just hides his mouth with his hand. We think, as the other characters in the room must have, "Jeez, is he crying?" The camera isn't in close-up, but it does catch a tear escaping his eye, if we look closely. No CGI tear, either; it's too subtle. Realizing that it's now obvious to the other characters that he is weeping, he pulls out his handkerchief, wipes his eyes, and apologizes. So brilliantly acted, so many thoughts and feelings portrayed not by the words in the script but my a master thespian beautifully portraying a moment, like Dizzy Gillespie genuinely improvising harmonic complexity in a way that is both spontaneous and masterfully constructed. Perhaps you don't quite understand what I mean, but hopefully you can see that what I'm trying to say isn't just confused mutterings, and does have meaning to me even if I can't quite articulate it in terms that others can fully understand.
½ July 21, 2018
In a time when movies pander to least common, brain-dead denominators, Denzel and the movie aspire to much greater. People who think will appreciate it. People who aren't interested in thinking won't. This is a movie with compassion, heart and soul.
July 11, 2018
Saw it at Toronto Festival - superb movie
½ July 7, 2018
I've been watching Denzel Washington's career since he was on St. Elsewhere. and every new performance of his that I see leaves me more impressed than before, including this one. I loved the plot and the idea that everyone has moments of weakness that one must struggle to overcome, bu the overcoming of them is a triumph, and that every life touches many others in so many ways, that no one lives in isolation, no mate how small their lives seem. Another powerhouse performance from Denzel Washington.
July 5, 2018
Great flick. Denzel disappears beneath ticks and mannerism as he channels the quirky Roman J. Israel, Esq. One of Denzel's best performances. A must see for any fans of Mr. Washington and his acting prowess.
July 1, 2018
This movie is an example of how a driven individual who has given his life to his ideals reacts to extreme challenges to his cocooned existence. I have seen this happen to people I have known and been amazed how quickly they lost touch with their reality. Denzel is a masterful actor dealing with a character faced with betrayal, being discarded and ridiculed by an apathetic generation.
July 1, 2018
Denzel is probably my fav., but he made a huge error in judgment even taking this role. He does not fit the part well and it's a lousy film to boot. Not even his great talent could elevate it. A huge disappointment.
July 1, 2018
Very interesting, intelligent, heart-felt, well-written, thoughtful, well-paced, and holding drama.
July 1, 2018
Tiene una direcci˛n que te atrapa y una soberbia actuaci˛n de Denzel Washington.
½ June 24, 2018
So this one got an Oscar nomination, right? So it has to be good in some way! No it isn't. It's boring and it's no excuse that it's Denzel Washington and his acting is good in it. Guess what...he's a good actor, so no surprise here. But he is still not capable of making this movie in any way interesting or compelling. His character never becomes sympathetic or relatable. The story never sucks us in. When Colin Farrell comes in you expect some tension but even then the film stays petty. It's a big question mark above my head how director Dan Gilroy managed to make one of my favorite films (Nightcrawler) and then this debacle.
½ June 17, 2018
Some will see this movie and think it a very long, somewhat boring, and meandering story, while others will see a tragedy gradually unfold. I saw the latter and once realizing it hopeless, I had to leave. (Rating is for acting, not story)
June 9, 2018
Denzel is great! He deserves an applause for this movie.
½ May 24, 2018
I feel so lukewarm about this film. So much was different in a good way and interesting, and yet.... so much was off.... and corny. I'm square in the middle. It had something there that could have been a real piece of art.
May 13, 2018
Excellent movie! Honestly I'm usually in agreement with rotten tomatoes scores but I have to disagree with the majority. This is a really good movie. Excellent acting. Excellent story line and the plots and twists keep you guessing to the very end. Anyone who has dealt with the injustices of the prison system first hand will definitely appreciate the film.
May 11, 2018
To watch Denzel Washington perform in any one of his films is enjoyable. This story of an attorney dedicated to righting the wrongs of society finds himself violating his own principles when a requirement for the basic needs of life overtakes his idealism. If you like Washington, you'll like this performance.
May 10, 2018
Important issues are discussed. Denzel and Colin gave interesting performances. I watched it hours ago and I'm still thinking about it. It really affected me. I'm glad I saw this. I know Roman and George.
May 6, 2018

Another fine & thoroughly engaging performance by Denzel portraying a savant defense attorney who has what appears to be Asperger Syndrome. After his long time job behind the scenes with his sole partner ends, he doggedly forges ahead going by his old ways. Still living in the height of his activism during the 70's, he soon learns the world is not as black & white or cut & dried as he always believed it to be. The wonderfully idealistic & brilliant Roman J. Israel, Esq. has to find his way in the craziness of the over crowded dockets of the LA court system working for his new boss, George Pierce, played very well by Colin Farrell, a typical cutthroat attorney living high, who surprisingly starts learning some much needed lessons in humanity from him. Social injustice is the main thing that drives Roman, as he has always continued fighting the good fight for decades.
However, after struggling with his new job, Roman makes some poor choices & ultimately uses ill gotten monetary gains to fit in, & things take a totally different & dark turn for him. Very thought provoking storyline from Dan Gilroy, (Nightcrawler), that shows how much our society has changed for the worse & is simply in a word, broken, when it comes to civil rights & compassion.

Once again, Denzel totally deserves the best actor nomination. He delivers all around per usual.

Keep on truckin', baby... (I love that "Fro" Roman sported through most of the film)

The 60's & 70's songs chosen for the soundtrack worked perfectly along with the haunting score by James Newton Howard.
May 4, 2018
One of Denzel's greatest performances, EVER!
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