Here’s the premise.
A hot-shot lawyer, played by Downey Jr., goes home for mom’s funeral and re-connects with his estranged father, a long-time judge, who has been implicated in a murder.
The great Robert Duvall stars as cantankerous Judge Joseph “Joe” Palmer, who can’t understand what all the fuss is about.
As it turns out, the victim is someone whom Palmer let off with a light sentence years back.The perp went onto to murder a girl.
Vengeful prosecutor Dwight Dickham, played by Billy Bob Thorton, is determined to see Judge Joe put away. So the judge’s son steps in to defend dad in court.
It’s hard to go wrong with these three capable actors. They keep the movie taut and suspenseful.
Downey is so wired it looks like lightning bolts will shoot out of his head at any moment. Duvall is so solid he’s like a piece of granite. And no one does evil quite like Billy Bob.
And, the terrific performances don’t end there.
Vera Framiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dax Shepard and “Gossip Girl” Leighton Meester, all add to the power of the drama.
Downey is good, but at times I couldn’t stop seeing his swaggering Tony Stark character from three “Iron Man” movies. And, he’s just leaked that he may be in a fourth!
I loved his work from years back (“Chaplin” and “Tropic Thunder”) but, face it, with Stark, he’s typecast himself. As such, it’s sometimes difficult to separate him from the role.
I kept waiting for Gwyneth to show up!
Duvall plays to type; he’s been a curmudgeon so many times in movies he could nail this part in his sleep. Still, it’s great to see him work it.
Anyone who had as problematic father will seamlessly gravitate to this tight script, from Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque, with terrific direction from David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”).
Some of the sweeping panoramic location shots also standout. The movie is set in Indiana and Dobkin’s got a real knack for taking re-inventing shots we’ve all seen before.
Several scenes with the two Roberts will have you fidgeting in your seat. It’s like watching two masters at work.
The real killer scene is near the end of the movie when old Joe confesses that he gave the kid a light sentence because he reminded him so much of his own son.
While we won’t reveal the ending, or both endings (???), suffice to say this “Judge” packs a wallop!
The film was screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival last month and is scheduled to be released this weekend, Oct, 10, in the United States.
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