"A great cast with a promising premise, but is let down a mix matched script"
Thanks to TV shows like Suits and Franklin and Bash, lawyers have become cool and sexy. Things have just got a whole lot sexier as Robert Downey Jr. wears his sharpest suit in this courtroom, family drama.
Hank Palmer (Downey Jr) is a slick Chicago attorney who returns to his childhood home Carlinville, Indiana for his mother's funeral, but before he can escape, the town judge and his estranged father (Robert Duvall) is arrested for a hit-and-run of a murderer he sent to jail, so Hank steps in to represent him.
Director David Dobkin follows three different stories in one film. What happens when you return to your hometown after years away, a broken relationship between a father and son while throwing in a murder trial of a beloved judge. A lot is happening in this film and the script does suffer because of it, however, despite being a bit too long, the film is gripping and this is down to the stellar cast.
Downey Jr. is brilliant as the son fighting for his father's respect while bringing his normal mix of charisma and humour to a character who’s flashy and cynical but is never seedy. While Duvall shows no signs of burnout to very distinguished career, bringing complexity to Joesph a man who barely makes eye contact with his own son but has a big heart for Hanks daughter. When these two came together, you see something brewing, but it never materialised into a big scene.
There’s also a wealth of supporting cast noticeably Billy Bob Thornton’s incoming prosecutor Dwight Dickham, Vincent D’Onofrio as Hank’s sensible brother Glen and Vera Farmiga as Hank’s former sweetheart Sam. Annoying the script missed out on seeing Dwight and Hank battling it out in the courtroom as both have equal legal skills to focus instead on more family problems.
Ultimately The Judge is aiming for award season as Robert Downey Jr. shows he can be more than just a man in an iron suit while Robert Duvall shows there’s fight in the old dog and don’t be surprised to see both actors fighting it out for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations.
Verdict: A great cast with a promising premise, but is let down a mix matched script.