Robert Downey Jr. can really act. He’s best known by many nowadays for his franchise-making role as Iron Man, but he can do serious and emotional much better than you might remember.
The Judge follows him as Hank Palmer, a big-shot lawyer who returns home to his dad, Judge Palmer, and two brothers when his mum suddenly dies. After several tense moments and shouting matches, Hank is eventually forced to stay when his dad is arrested after seemingly hitting with his car and killing a man he twice sentenced to prison.
The ensuing tale is thoroughly effective at stirring up familial emotion. Frank’s two brothers – the gentle giant Glen who missed out on a baseball dream played by Vincent D’Onofrio and Dale, played by Jeremy Strong, who hides behind his video camera – provide an easier access into this stalemate between Hank and his father and are a platform for them to show their true colours through.
Robert Duvall as the judge shows a man knocked down from his pedestal who ends up in some extremely vulnerable situations – but he can still shout over a tornado.
As a courtroom presence, Billy Bob Thornton, prosecuting, has a face of steel and comprises the sense of threat to the Palmers’ case; but ultimately we trust in Robert Downey Jr.
Director David Dobkin sets the tone right and, although he could have shaved a few minutes here and there – especially in the first ten – the story is told with focus and mystery in all the right places.
This was just a quick review but The Judge is a slow-building film that stays with you after the beautiful credit music rolls.