I like Court room drama. They are fun if done well. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and you want to know how will things pan out. Also we don’t get to see Robert Downey Jr doing roles other than Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes that often. But in The Judge, he plays a real human being and a lawyer who has his own problems in life.
Not a simple courtroom drama at all, the story is more about Hank Palmer (Downey)’s struggle to understand his relationship with his father(Duvall) and to accept where he came from. Cocky Robert Downey Jr plays lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his home after his Mother passes away. His father is an esteemed Judge Palmer of Carlinville, Indiana who gets in trouble with the police and then it all starts there. Whether did Judge Palmer mean to kill the man or was it just an accident? It’s about identity, family, and all the messiness and contradictions of life.
Director David Dobkin does a great job in the lighter moments. But I still think he needs to up his ante with drama because at times I felt it was going too melodramatic way. Downey Jr and Duvall give great performances. Both Duvall and Downey could see an Oscar nomination for his work here. Downey Jr leads the cast flawlessly and delivers sarcasm and dark humour on point. Though his character is quite similar to what he has been playing. He is intelligent, cocky and a ladies man which is nothing different to what we have seen him already. Here he is given more room to emote though, He brings the character to life showing the various emotions brilliantly. Robert Duvall is breath taking. I have always loved him as an actor. He is captivating as the bull-headed, moralistic, small town judge who has been estranged from his son and his own issues with his son. The Downey-Duvall father-son relationship is quite good. Billy Bob Thornton, plays the opposing lawyer to Hank but is never quite given enough screen time and is a waste of a good talent. I wish they could use him more to bring that courtroom to life. Most of the supporting cast are okay at best or underused too like Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepherd and Vera Farmiga.
What is disappointing about the film is its actual story, there is nothing incredible or compelling about the court case that we spend so much time seeing. The actual conclusion of the case felt like a downside. The movie swirls between courtroom drama and family drama. For some weird reason I found it quite similar to The Descendants, but that’s maybe it was also a family drama. There are great moments in the film. I am willing to overlook some things because it entertained me. The film’s performances are truly something to take in and sit back and enjoy
Rating- 3 out of 5