Review by Diana Saenger
Roman J. Israel, Esq. wants to be a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system, but it’s more of a puzzle just what Roman wants to do and what he can do. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney with big ideas and goals. However he has Asperger’s syndrome so he’s kind of like the pieces in a chest game. A brilliant, savant-like attorney he has spent many years in the backroom of a legendary civil-rights lawyer’s one-man firm. He’s made the right move doing research and writing briefs.
Things change quickly when the boss dies and Roman is distraught as to what his next move will be. Fortunately, George (Colin Farrell), a resourceful lawyer, has his eye on Roman and feels he wants to help him. George works for a major downtown firm. Since Roman has never even been in a court room, George offers him a job behind-the-scenes.
Even that becomes a problem for Roman. His Asperger’s may be part of his under development, as he’s a sloppy dresser, looks like someone from a Detroit band, and is fidgety all the time. All of this some becomes a problem for George since the other lawyers in the firm don’t seem to want Roman there.
Watching Denzel Washington play this role is about the best part of this story. He’s good at creating a character who continually makes the wrong moves in his life, but always tries to correct his errors. But that can only last so long until Roman is forced to do something he never thought he would.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. has huge competition at this time when all the Academy potentials are hitting the theaters, but anyone who likes Denzel Washington may want to see this film.
Fans of Denzel Washington.