Thursday, June 18, 2015
"The Judge" with Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall (2014)
In this film Robert Downey Jr. plays attorney Hank Palmer, who is going through a rough time in his marriage. His wife is screwing around on him and he is on the verge of a divorce, even as he handles the high profile cases he is known for. Hank is a true shark; he can spot the jugular on anyone and knows just how to go for it. He had a lot of practice in learning the art of intellectual defense; his father is Judge Joseph Palmer, and the two have never gotten along well.
His two brothers; Glen, played by Vincent D'Onofrio ; and younger brother Dale; seem to have an easier time accepting their fathers semi abusive manner. Glen has a profession, while Dale is somewhat slow and has a learning disability which prompts him to film everything with an old 8 mm movie camera. He is; at least in his own mind; working on a film.
When Judge Palmer’s wife passes away Hank returns home to the small town in Indiana where he was raised and his father still presides as Judge. Old wounds quickly open up again when Hank returns and Judge Palmer may be drinking again.
The stage is set for a final show down between the Judge and his most combative son when the father is arrested on suspicion of murdering a man who had appeared before the Judge previously. With the Judge depressed over his wife’s death, and struggling with cancer himself, Hank is afraid his father doesn’t really want to fight for his own freedom. He seems to want to be punished for the sins of his past. To complicate that, Hank believes his father to be guilty of both the murder and drinking again.
In the fight of his life; and with a court battle that has the Judge on trial for his freedom; if not his life; Hank must use every skill he has ever learned to overcome his own emotions and free his father; while at the same time uncovering the truth behind the murder. In the end Hank finds that he has more in common with his father than he ever thought.
Riveting performances by all make this screenplay by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque; from the story by David Dobkin; shine. Billy Bob Thornton is also credible as the suit and tie Prosecutor Dwight Dickham.