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Roman J. Israel, Esq. Review

Dan Gilroy blew unsuspecting audiences away with Nightcrawler, but he is likely to confuse audiences with this legal not-quite-thriller, whose title alone is enough to confound some audience members, especially when buying their ticket. What does not confuse and is even less surprising is Denzel Washington, who excels when tasked to do more than simply be Denzel Washington. 

The titular protagonist exists somewhere on the autism spectrum, which has quickly become Hollywood’s go-to “disability” these days, as he struggles with people but remembers the California Penal Code like Raymond remembered blackjack cards. When Roman’s legal partner is incapacitated, Roman’s ordered life is shaken up. Fortunately, he makes new friends, like pretty activist Maya (Carmen Ejogo) and slick lawyer George Pierce (Colin Farrell). Everything in the movie and Roman’s life goes swimmingly, until the last act has to end everything with a dramatic flourish. 

Like Roman, the film is intelligent to a fault, and viewers are often left wondering about what he and it are talking. But does it matter, as long as Denzel is good?