Film review: The Judge (15, 141 mins)Drama/Thriller/Romance.

Downey Jr and Duvall shine

Sunday, 19th October 2014, 3:00 pm
The Judge: ROBERT DUVALL as Joseph Palmer
The Judge: ROBERT DUVALL as Joseph Palmer

The lead role of a smarmy big city lawyer, who proudly proclaims, “Innocent people can’t afford me”, is a snug fit for Robert Downey Jr.

Like Tony Stark in the Iron Man films, this slick operator has arrogance and wise-cracks to spare, yet, beneath the impeccably tailored suits and designer shades, there beats the fragile heart of a man terrified of losing the people he loves.

As the lead prosecutor of the murder trial sagely observes, “You’re a bully with a big bag of tricks.”

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The legal eagle in question is Hank Palmer (Downey Jr), who helps his wealthy clients to escape the State of Illinois’ prosecutorial clutches. During one trial, Hank learns that his mother has passed away.

He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and father Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has been the community’s venerable judge for 42 years.

His mood brightens when he learns that old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga) owns the local bar.

As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel.