Skip to main content

Roman J. Israel, Esq.: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


Share This article

Roman J. Israel, Esq. has problems ab initio (from the beginning). It's unfortunate, but this Dan Gilroy film doesn't hold throughout -- despite a convincing performance from Oscar winner Denzel Washington.

Israel is a quirky, brilliant legal mind who's been working happily (or so its seems) in the background of the LA legal system. When his boss is incapacitated, Israel is pushed to the frontlines of providing the small firm's clients a good, level-headed defense. It gets rocky from there.

For all intents and purposes, Roman J. Israel, Esq. feels like it should be an Oscar contender. On paper, it has a lot going for it: Washington in the lead, Gilroy at the helm, and a strong story that makes a plea for criminal justice reform. Washington is usually a bona fide bet that a film will be critically acclaimed. He's that good at his craft.

So, what falls apart for Roman J. Israel, Esq.?

Well, Washington is the film's saving grace, offering some real vulnerable moments for audiences. But, his character -- for the most part -- comes off more annoying than charming. Bottom line: The movie isn't memorable by the end.

And let's talk about that ending. It's quick, super quick. And a big plot problem in those last scenes cuts the movie's impact at its knees. All in all, it feels like a missed opportunity, especially since it had the perfect framework for being a truly remarkable film.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. falters in the most disappointing way. For all of the intensity, great acting, and strong message, this Crime/Drama just doesn't prove its case well.

Share This article

About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's