Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
Dan Gilroy
Colin Farrell as George Pierce
DeRon Horton as Derrell Ellerbee
Jocelyn Ayanna as Court Officer Bailiff
Hugo Armstrong as Fritz Molinar
Amanda Mason Warren as Lynn Jackson
Amari Cheatom as Carter Johnson
Nazneen Contractor as Melina Nassour (Ass't. DA)
Vince Cefalu as Security Bailiff
Lynda Gravatt as Vernita Wells (as Lynda Gravátt)
Tony Plana as Jessie Salinas
Tarina Pouncy as Hallway Bailiff
Sam Gilroy as Connor Novick
Carmen Ejogo as Maya Alston
Denzel Washington as Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Storyline: ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. Colin Farrell costars as the monied, cutthroat lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.
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An implosive FALLING DOWN; Washington is rock solid in this uncompromising character study.
ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. (2017) *** 1/2 Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Amanda Warren, Tony Plana. Washington is rock-solid as behind-the-scenes partner of a law firm who is suddenly thrust from his complacent employment when he loses his job as a reliable, savant-like parable of virtue and a relic of the '70s as a civil rights advocate and public speaker, stymied by the 21st century no thanks to the unlikely set-up with slick attorney Farrell while also trying to change his own life in the process. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy with aplomb and skill in this somewhat implosive 'Falling Down'. Washington completely chamelonizes himself with Israel's bad 'fro, schlumpy walk and questionable fashion yet embibes him with the skills of being right among the wrong even as it threatens all he has stood for. Uncompromising.
Denzel Washington is practically an American Institution . . .
. . . as a virtual lock on at least an Oscar Nomination every time he's out of the chute, just like Meryl Streep. (Like that Beatles song, Streep gets an Oscar Nod--with a little help from her friends--even when she warbles off-key.) You can make a movie with either Denzel or Meryl watching the grass dry, and Boffo Box Office with Oscar Recognition is a given. However, Sony Pictures (the official propaganda arm of a Japanese Government still sore and Hell-bent for Revenge because they had to be Nuke about 75 years ago to stop their World War Two Bloodbath) tries to derail Washington's career by Gussying him up as a dirty lawyer with no fashion sense, for whom every day brings Bad Hair. Trying to kill BOTH Denzel's ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. dodo bird AND the Beloved Eagle of American Justice with one gall stone, Sony also attacks the latter as a Rich Man's Tool designed primarily to Protect the Wealthy and Keep the Brothers Down. Movie viewers will exit ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. wondering how Mr. Washington has become so desperate for money that he agreed to play a lame Black Jewish Lawyer huckster to besmirch American Justice.
To See, or Not To see.... That is the Question.
The legendary Denzel Washington is associated with so many legendary roles that will forever live in the hearts of millions. And like many people, when I see he a movie of his about to release, I get excited I'm in store for another masterpiece. Enter Roman J. Israel Esq, a movie that from the trailers, held potential to be an interesting biography of a powerful legal, pro- action character that was certain to stir up trouble. Will it be powerfully emotional to fill your eyes to the brim with tears, or something else? Robbie K here to give you some insight into yet another movie this holiday season, let's get started.


The Message: Never say that a Denzel movie doesn't deliver a powerful punch in the emotional level. Roman J. Israel Esq, is another visual tribute to the topic of truth, honor, and the moral obligations of justice. The whole movie portrays the struggle of holding on to your beliefs vs. diving into the acceptable flow the public/society deems normal. We all have breaking points that push us into new areas and test our fortitude, the question is where does one cross the line and how far do they leap over it. Roman's tale shows the challenge quite well and more so what can happen when pushes the boundaries too far. It will get you thinking and perhaps question your own philosophies, assuming you can get past the other parts of this movie.

The Acting…kind of: Denzel still has his acting skills down pat. He portrays the awkward character quite well, capturing the serious thoughts, the quirky mannerisms, and even the speech patterns necessary for portraying the mind within. Even more impressive though, is how well he acts out the struggles of the high stakes choices that bear heavy on his mind. At times, one can feel the weight of the decisions bearing down on them, the anxiety of making the wrong choice radiating out in the sequences. His supporting cast helps open up more dilemmas to tax him, but can't say they have the most involvement in the town.

The Music: The soundtrack is not the most toe tapping number, but one can appreciate the soul behind the songs selected for this movie. There selections were choice representations of the tone of the scene, sort of artistically symbolizing Rowan's mood and his answer to the current obstacles that plague him. It's a dynamic track list that constantly changes between genres, and fits so well into much of the movie, while perhaps bringing back some nostalgia for other fans.


The weaker character moments: Despite all the quarks Denzel got, his character isn't the most engaging or magical of the roles he has played. Past the morals he boasts, Roman just doesn't have a lot to him. He was a fairly flat character, with disinterest seeming to ooze from Denzel during much of the performance, almost like he had to really push himself to play the part. I had a hard time caring about him, the potential the trailers building failing to live up as Roman continued to just shrug more and more of the qualities I looked for. A redeeming moment at the end got the steam going, but by then it was too late and the movie was over. It also doesn't help that the supporting character actors don't seem too excited in their roles, and are just as mundane as some of Roman's personality. The characters just aren't engaged in the tale, and many aren't utilized to their full potential.

Boring: The emotional trials are strong, the food for thought even more of a rewarding experience, but did the movie have to be so dull? While I never expected this film to be an action packed, guns blazing tale, I certainly didn't expect the movie to lack so much suspense. The plot didn't have enough edge, there wasn't enough action or peaceful protest, and the absence of any real villain just led to a very lackluster tale. I had to fight sleep a couple of times in this movie, though it could be due to the long work day, but a Denzel Movie is usually more charged than what I was presented. Which brings me to my next dislike…

Ambiguous: The movie's biggest problem for me was how aimless the plot was. The writers didn't seem to figure out which way they wanted to take the film, is a piece about being an activist, is it a biography, is it a crime/drama? I couldn't quite figure out the myself, but they settled on a little bit of everything, but didn't hit the high-quality components of the genres. The film could have used more crime/mystery to add the suspense, perhaps with a theme surrounding the hot political issues they try to cover, all showing the skills of the whomever Roman represented. I don't fell many will enjoy the approach they took, and the ambiguous story telling that was just stale and sad than anything else.


It held such potential, but Roman Israel Esq, just couldn't find its ground in the grand scheme of things. Denzel tried to do the heavy lifting, and accomplishes the messages of balancing morals, but outside of that lacks any big sustenance to him. In addition, the boring pace, weaker character interactions, and ambiguous plots, the movie just fails to provide the very justice it wanted to serve. Sad to see the legendary actor have a weaker film, but this reviewer encourages you to skip this movie and focus on the treasures that have already come out for your theater viewing pleasure, all while hoping Denzel will have another Oscar worthy film in the future.

My scores:

Crime/Drama: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0
Another edgy, noir(ish) trip in LA with a glorious oddball
Gilroy scores big with Denzel. It's one of his MAJOR works of the 21st century and it makes me so pleased to see a guy in his 60s who could/should be resting on his laurels with a challenging human being to nail. He does a metric-ton of work to create a completely distinctive introvert/savant person we have never seen him do before and it shows. But Gilroy needed to work more on the script; events move along far too quickly given how much does happen to/by/from Israel, and I feel mixed not so much on the very end but on the climax (spoiler: it confirms a trope raised many times on the "Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time" podcast). So it is good, at times very good. But it's a teeny slump after the knockout of Nightcrawler, which this feels like a cousin to. I wonder now if Gilroy will create his own 'LA Mental Case' cinematic universe (one can also tell that these are very much stories of the American dream and how the system work; the TV network and Farrell's legal office are by the books and full of "normal" people, and who wants that?)
Roman J. Israel Esq. November 23 rd, 2017
This film, in my opinion is the best of 2017.Denzel Washington continues to be the best black actor, in Hollywood,decade after decade.The film itself was well written. The supporting cast,top notch,i detect A slight British accent on the young girl,who plays the civil rights activist volunteer. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat, at one point i had to use the bathroom, but held off, because i knew every second of this movie was intense !!

I get the feeling there may be a part two to this film< based on the way the film ended... Time will tell...
Definitely no 'NIGHTCRAWLER'.
'ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The new legal drama from writer/director Dan Gilroy, the very talented filmmaker who also brought us 2014's 'NIGHTCRAWLER' (one of the very best films of that year). Denzel Washington stars (in the title role) as an extremely idealistic lawyer, who finds his morals challenged when he's forced to take on new employment and money becomes increasingly more of an issue. The movie costars Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo. It's gotten mixed to positive reviews from critics, and it's also a modest hit at the Box Office as well. I found it to be a mostly well made, and somewhat interesting movie.

Roman J. Israel (Washington) is an extremely idealistic lawyer who's always tried to maintain his strong morals, by only defending the poor and legally disadvantaged. When his partner has a heart attack, Israel is forced to take on a new employment position, working for a larger law firm under the management of a much more conventional lawyer, named George Pierce (Farrell). Israel feels his new job responsibilities are greatly challenging his long held principles, and money also becomes increasingly more of a challenge for him as well. He soon finds himself questioning his ideals for the first time, and starts making decisions he soon regrets.

The film is definitely no 'NIGHTCRAWLER', so for me it's a disappointment in that way. It's a much more conventional movie, that does have it's darker moments, but it's also a much more traditional crime drama than 'NIGHTCRAWLER' is as well. I think it shows a lot of missed potential too, but Gilroy still shows he has some more than decent filmmaking talent. Washington is also outstanding (like always) in the lead, and his character, while definitely a savant, is still much more relatable and likable than the lead in 'NIGHTCRAWLER' is. The film also seems long and somewhat slow-paced at times, but I mostly enjoyed it.

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Two time Academy award winner Denzel Washington
You know, when you have two - count them two - Academy Award Oscar wins to your credit, you can pretty much do any role you choose as you are Hollywood Gold. And that describes Denzel Washington. Perhaps this role wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but who cares it's Denzel, the actor who can pick and choose whatever role he wants. Denzel has had some great roles - St. Elsewhere, Glory, The Hurricane, Training Day, John Q, even Mo Better Blues (among many) which have been outstanding films with top notch casts and Denzel Washington leading them all with his outstanding acting talent and that "schitch" is exactly what made Denzel famous and why people love him and why he can pick and choose whatever role he pleases. And in this film, it's the dialog that takes it to the next level. No there's no hi speed car chases or shoot 'em out scenes so If this film fails to provide that sort of enthusiasm people are looking for in today's Fantasy Films, perhaps you haven't paid attention to the point of the film. Reality isn't for everyone.
A missed opportunity
This really could have been a lot better with a better script. The basic Idea was fine , A Black Lawyer and the problems he face! But it meanders around and doesn't really know what it is trying to say!Washington is OK but not nowhere are good as Fences or even The book of Eli. I guess the old saying is true, "Its the writing that makes a movie"
Unclear, Unfair, Unsettling, Unsatisfying,
A strange, dark movie that left more loose ends than a frayed rope. It introduced a series of interesting issues and situations, but failed to explore, much less resolve, any of them.

My biggest beef with the movie, besides that fact that it's very slow: After two hours of watching Israel get continually stomped on by life (not just the "impossible-for-the-ungrateful" folks), we end up getting stomped on ourselves, right along with him.

We invest in Roman J. because he's an intelligent, ambitious, compassionate, fair-minded underdog. We stay with him, believing that any moment he'll get some sort of reward. Instead, all he ever gets is hurt. I don't watch movies to see the Good Guys lose; real life shows me enough of that.

The only reason I give even 4 stars is Washington's phenomenal acting. He took this awkward, oppressed, pitiful character and made him so real you'd swear you've met him. There's no sign of the usual gliding, confident Washington walk. No trace of the handsome, swarthy, charismatic Denzel-hunk we've come to love. He IS Roman J. Israel. Come to think of it, that alone might be enough---if you can stand the heartbreak.
Another Oscar contender for Denzel Washington
Roman J. Israel, ESQ, staring Denzel Washington is out now in limited release and it is already receiving rave reviews from movie critics and has also been nominated for two NAACP Image Awards (Best Picture and Best Actor). It looks like it will be another contender for Washington come Oscar time.

The movie does however suffer from a lack of availability at movie theaters. It's currently showing on just about 1,600 screens nationwide while a movie such as Justice League, in wide release, is showing in about 4,000 movie theaters. So it will take a bit of looking to find the movie at you local cineplex, but it will be well worth your effort.

In the movie Denzel plays the title character, Roman J. Israel, ESQ. He is an idealistic lawyer who has the luxury of hanging onto his civil rights era beliefs since he doesn't try cases. His partner had been the litigation lawyer for the two man law firm, allowing Roman to work on court briefs back in the office, while never stepping into a courtroom. That all changes when his partner suffers a stroke and is hanging on to life in a hospital on life support.

That's when Denzel's quirky, almost Autistic, character traits come into play. First he loses his job in the law firm as the heirs of his partner start to plan for his impending passing. Now, Roman J. Israel, ESQ. needs to make a living so he takes a job in a huge law firm that's headed by his partner's college protegee (played very slickly by Colin Farrell).

Denzel plays a fish out of water with his odd behavior and his inability to grasp the concept of subtlety. He speaks his mind when he shouldn't and even his style of hair and dress is out of place in a modern corporate law firm.

He tries to hang on to his core values by volunteering at a community center working with teens.That's where he meets Maya, played by actress Carmen Ejogo. She becomes his mentee and the two soon become more than friends. She worships him for his values and the struggles he's been through as a advocate for civil rights.

Eventually Roman makes some mistakes in his dealings with lawyers and clients. He shows that he's human and has to give up on some of his principles and ideals in order to survive. He ends up being chased by criminals, after her betrays a client who's in jail, and his world is turned upside down by his mistakes. In the end he tries to make amends for his mistakes and ends up inspiring others by his attempt to make good on the error of his ways.

Roman J. Israel, ESQ is a terrible title for a movie, but it's another winner for Oscar winner Denzel Washington. The movie is rated PG-13 and runs just over 2 hours. On my "Hollywood Popcorn Scale" Roman J. Israel, ESQ gets my highest rating; a JUMBO (with extra butter). Hollywood Hernandez