Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
What is not to like about the thought of Denzel Washington being an attorney? His track record speaks for itself. He is a man who can become anyone. I do not remember the last time I was disappointed in a Denzel Washington movie. He is one of the most consistently extraordinary actors of our time. So, of course I wanted to see Roman J. Israel, Esq.
The film is about a stubborn savant, Roman J. Israel, Esq. He is a diligent and methodical defense attorney, who is hopelessly stuck in his ways. When his career is flipped upside down, it sends his ritualistic life spiraling out of control.
The movie was written and directed by Dan Gilroy and the noteworthy cast includes Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, and Tony Plana.
Great quote from the film: “Every weapon is a tool if you hold it the right way.”
This is not a great movie. This is a meticulous, one man freight train, and immersive performance by an iconic heavyweight, Denzel Washington. This is eloquence in motion and an exercise in character.
In Roman J. Israel, Esq., Denzel becomes his character down to the gap in his front teeth, glasses, mini fro, headphones, precision in speech, mannerisms, and tendencies. He is a diligent and unique man who sticks to his guns, and is still stubbornly listening to records and using paper files. He is an eccentric-minded “Rain Man-like” attorney of sorts
The movie itself, is not anything special. It is good until about halfway through and then it starts to lose its momentum. Denzel keeps it afloat and it sort of redeems itself at the end.
Colin Farrell’s character wafts badass arrogance. His role is a good one, but feels like an afterthought.
Overall this is a great performance in an about average movie. Denzel takes a mediocre film and makes it watchable. It is an Oscar caliber performance. He is submerged in his character. He has multiple performances that are better than this one, but his character dominance in this movie brings it up a notch and makes it worth seeing.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:
Training Day (2001)
The Hurricane (1999)
Déjà vu (2006)
American Gangster (2007)
Inside Man (2006)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Man on Fire (2004)
Antwone Fisher (2002)
John Q. (2002)
Remember the Titans (2000)
The Bone Collector (1999)
The Equalizer (2014)
Out of Time (2003)
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
I had never even heard of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints until I rented Charlie Countryman (2013) at the Redbox. When you rent Charlie Countryman, you get A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints as a bonus movie. They give you a two-for-one, a double sided disc for the price of one movie. It’s a Shia LaBeouf double feature. They are both indie films. This was all the more intriguing to me, so I watched each movie the other night. You can guess what one of my next reviews will be.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was based on the book with the same title. Surprisingly enough, the man who wrote the book, Dito Montiel, also directed the movie. The movie is a film adaptation of Dito Montiel’s life growing up in Astoria, New York in the 1980s. The story is a look into a messed up childhood in a rough part of the city. It follows the struggles of inner city teenagers, Dito (Shia LaBeouf plays young Dito, and Robert Downey Jr. plays grown up Dito) and his friends as they are becoming adults. The circle of friends are pitted against drugs, violence, sex, love, hate, loss, and hardship. All the while, Dito wants to escape New York and try to make a better life for himself somewhere else.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Scott Michael Campbell, Anthony DeSando, Adam Scarimbolo, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Laila Liliana Garro, and Eric Roberts.
I’m surprised that this movie got past me 8 years ago, because the cast is excellent. I should have been aware of this film earlier. It’s another low-budget independent film that slipped through the cracks.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was hard to watch, at times, but it was also hard to stop watching. The film was an excellent depiction of how rundown certain areas of the country can be and how it affects the people living there. It’s indeed unfortunate, but it’s in-your-face honesty. Some people won’t be able to handle the honesty of this movie. The trashy characters, obscene language and other vulgarity, along with the sex, nudity, and mindless violence, among other things, will be too much for some.
But, you have to take the sweet from the sour. There is indeed a silver lining in this story. The headlining actors in this film are exceptional. The movie makes you feel like you are in the slums with the characters experiencing it all. The actors portray a remarkable friendship and camaraderie that helps you come back to the reality that people often try to be good even if they are bad.
The story is rigid and rocky, but the writing and acting make it all worthwhile. Here is an unknown gem for those who are willing to give it a chance.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, you might also enjoy the following movies:
2 Guns (2013)
Director Baltasar Kormakur pulled out the big guns for his new Action/Comedy 2 Guns. With a cast that includes Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, and Paula Patton, how could you go wrong? This is the question that I asked myself. My answer was that you most likely can’t go wrong. I was very excited to see this film, so I caught one of the first showings.
The film is about an undercover DEA agent (Washington) and an undercover Special Forces officer (Wahlberg) that team up to get close to a drug cartel. The catch: each man is unaware that the other is a cop.
2 Guns is a high caliber adventure that is fully loaded with twists and turns, plenty of action, an amazing cast of edgy characters, lots of laughs, and a whole lot of fun.
Denzel Washington is one actor that has never really disappointed me. He has always acted his heart out in every role that I have seen him in. He is certainly one of the greats. He is one of the most consistently solid actors of our time. His role in 2 Guns is evidence that he has no intention of changing his ways or slowing down. His character is suave and in control. He lets his presence be known on screen. If he were a Jedi, the force would be strong with this one.
Mark Wahlberg’s acting ability has noticeably improved over the years. It was never bad by any means, but he has definitely found his niche. He has always taken a no-nonsense approach to his acting. This has given his movies more intensity and energy. Over time, he has learned to develop a different personality to each of the characters that he plays. He has become very versatile. In 2 Guns, he somehow managed to be funny and a badass.
The witty banter exchanged between Washington and Wahlberg was hilarious. That, mixed with each man’s physical ability for violence made the movie very entertaining. Their characters played off of each other wonderfully.
Besides Haywire (2011), I have not seen Paxton in anything great for a while. This is his best film movie Frailty (2001). He played a good tough-guy in this film.
There was never a dull moment in this movie. If you are looking for a lot of action, some good laughs, great acting, and an overall awesome film experience, look no further than 2 Guns. This movie has everything. It’s the best Action/Comedy film so far this year, and will probably be the best of the year.
I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you enjoyed 2 Guns, then you will most likely enjoy: