February 27, 2018

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

Denzel Washington


Hey remember when Denzel made that movie about holding a hospital hostage to try and get his son medical care? It pretended to be an action movie, but was really a commentary on the messed up health care system of the US. This is kind of like that.

This movie has been panned pretty thoroughly by every avid movie watcher I know, and understandably so. It's not really a movie. It is, technically, of course, but it's so laden with morality speeches and over-the-top scenarios to demonstrate said morality that it feels more like something you show a high school class to provoke discussion. It's also really slow.

On the other hand, I didn't hate it. Maybe it's my bias toward social justice issues, especially those regarding the legal system and how it disproportionately affects low-income defendants and people of color, but the movie definitely hits those points without confusion. The plot arc is clear and Denzel you know, does his Denzel thing. His performance of the socially awkward (autistic?) but torch-carrying activist, though not necessarily consistent all the way through, makes the movie worth watching.

At the end of the day, I'm usually pleased I've watched movies like this. They are not the most entertaining, nor are they the type of movie I'd necessarily recommend to others. But it's not part of a blockbuster franchise and it made me think--a rarity these days. So while this movie is guaranteed not to actually win anything at the Oscars, I'm glad movies that try to convey a message are still being made and getting attention called to them. Maybe one of these days someone will actually make a "social issues thriller" that hits the mainstream.

Final word: John Q but for the legal system.

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