‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ Teeters on the Brink of Brilliance, Falls Short

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

America has a problem deep within its criminal justice system where if you’re unable to afford a top tier attorney you’re assigned an overworked public defender who will push you to accept whatever plea deal is presented before you. Writer-director Dan Gilroy focuses on an attorney who has dedicated his life to fighting injustice within an unjust system with Roman J. Israel, Esq. The Nightcrawler writer-director has a lot on his mind about the issues engrained within the criminal justice system but has hard time coalescing them into a truly effective story.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Denzel Washington) is an attorney who works behind the scenes in a law office in Downtown Los Angeles. His partner appears with their clients before the judge and jury and Roman works on filing the paperwork and doing research duties. Roman’s unusual law practice is thrown into upheaval when his partner suffers a debilitating heart attack. The law offices will be closing and a former student of Roman’s partner, George Pierce (Colin Farrell), will be handling the final cases. At first, Roman tries to find work in political activism for those seeking a knowledgeable attorney, inquiring with Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo) who works at a local non-profit. Desperate for money, Roman reluctantly accepts a position with George Pierce’s firm. But the unusual style of Roman and his idealistic ways causes conflict in the posh law offices. Soon Roman J. Israel, Esq. will have to examine his own life and career as he takes a job that runs counter to everything he’s ever stood for in his life.

The character as scripted by Gilroy and performed by Denzel Washington is truly fascinating. It’s never explicitly stated but you get the sense that Roman J. Israel, Esq. lands somewhere on the spectrum. He has absolutely no filter and his social interactions often suffer from his inability to soften his words. Amazingly, Roman has sections of the law memorized right down to their categorization number, a tool he utilizes to complain about the construction that runs late near his modest apartment. Here is a character that has shunned financial success to do the right thing. He’ll appear at work with his headphones around his neck, ready to pop on a classic track by Gil Scott Heron at a moment’s notice. The social awkwardness of Roman makes the connections that he forms with Maya and George over the three short weeks the film takes place more affecting because you can see him emerging from the shadows of solitude that has dominated his life for decades.

Where Roman J. Israel, Esq, both the character and the film, run into trouble is that they each try to bite off more than they can chew. The character injects himself too deeply into a particular case and that leads to him ethical lapses with dire consequences. The film uses this scenario as a means to escalate the stakes of the story far beyond the more interesting moral dilemma of turning your back on noble service in poverty for financial gain. Suddenly, the movie becomes a somewhat paranoid thriller that runs counter to the legal and ethical questions that worked so well in the earlier portions of the story. It’s simply a case of trying to do too much when it was working incredibly well as a tale about a square peg in a round hole.

It’s understandable how some can see Roman J. Israel, Esq. as a disappointment considering the level of righteous fire that Dan Gilroy brought to Nightcrawler. I’m more disappointed in Roman J. Israel, Esq. because it is constantly teetering on the brink of brilliance without ever finding it. It’s a well-acted movie with interesting characters that simply tries to do too much. There’s still plenty of entertaining moments throughout Roman J. Israel, Esq. thanks to another great performance by Denzel Washington and pointed moments that highlight the numerous flaws inherent in the criminal justice system.


Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Generation Wealth
‘Generation Wealth’ is a Disjointed Diagnosis of a Societal Sickness

Over the past 30-plus years, income inequality has skyrocketed – the...

The Good Place Season 2
Holy Forking Shirtballs! ‘The Good Place’ Season 2 is Now on DVD

After concluding its inaugural season with one of the most shocking...

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer
The Wizarding World Expands Further in the ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Trailer

You can’t blame Warner Brothers for wanting to keep the Harry...

Event News Event Reviews
Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018
Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR and Stern Pinball

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR...

Anime expo 2018
Anime Expo 2018 Brings the Heat to Los Angeles

Last year, I picked on Anime Expo not being worth the...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Interview with Mark Mowbray of KLab

Established in 2000, KLab‘s goal is to create a world of excitement...

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene
Mondo Games Unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene Board Game

MONDO GAMES unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene board game for 25th Anniversary...

Great Coffee Break
Escape Work By Playing The Great Coffee Break

You can escape work, in more ways than one, by playing The...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
anime pls
Anime Pls by Bioworld – Exclusive Interview

Bioworld Merchandising is a pop culture product expert. The company is considered...

heaven's feel
Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower Blu-ray Release

TLDR Aniplex of America announced that box office hit, Fate/stay night ...

Few Even Come Close – EVEN H2 Headphones Review

Even headphones are like having prescription glasses, but for your ears...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) the King of Sports returns to...

Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Harlan Ellison: A tribute (of sorts)

For the longest time in my life I was afraid of...

Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: