Man would I love to have seen a long biopic on Thurgood MARSHALL, the first African-American supreme court justice. Having a tight script, with the incredible lead in this film, Chadwick Boseman, cast in it still, that would be one helluva picture. What we get here is really just a court case a little earlier before that where Marshall doesn’t have much of a voice in that trial, just controls things behind the scenes. Which was just a tad disappointing. HOWEVER, the movie is still pretty good for what it was trying to do. It was trying to cater to a mass audience, and mass audience don’t pay too much attention to biopics anymore, but court room case drama’s, still have a mass appeal, so they tried to combine a huge message with a pretty predictable court case. It works, but in the long line of films like this, I’m afraid will be lost in the shuffle.
I can’t hark too bad on this movie, because it is enjoyable even though the court case is 250% predictable. And you can’t blame me for liking a movie where I wasn’t annoyed by Olaf’s (Josh Gad) performance for once, but this film could’ve been so much more. I think Chadwick Boseman is an actor who’s not a force to be reckoned with. I think he is starting to show potential as one of the greats along with Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier, Gary Oldman, etc. He is fantastic in this. But I keep going back to in my mind what this film could’ve been. I love a good biopic, and all the right pieces could’ve made Marshall something truly special. It’s serviceable, not a bad movie by any means, I’m just a tad disappointed.
Especially because while Thurgood Marshall’s voice is heard behind the scenes and he controls what happens in this court case, you don’t really see him in action as a lawyer all that much, instead Josh Gad, as a lawyer that doesn’t do cases like these, takes Marshall’s words and has to use his voice to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman and then trying to kill her. Why couldn’t we have seen a lengthier court case where we heard Thurgood Marshall doing the defending the entire time? We could still kept in the great messages about racial injustice in here, because the message is loud, clear, and good, but why have a court case where Marshall doesn’t do much? Did we even need Josh Gad’s character (even though he’s good in this?)
There is a reason for Josh Gad’s character, he is Jewish, and I guess his story arc is acceptable, considering that he’s defending a black man in tough times and he is also Jewish himself faces discrimination. It just felt like Josh Gad’s character was in there to be a kind white voice in this picture, when we really didn’t need one. Marshall needs to be front and center, with no side bar (did you like my lawyer joke there?). And the court case is extremely predictable beyond our wildest imagination. I knew what happened before the facts were even put on the table. And when the revelation comes, the film kind of tries to say “gotcha” even though it is more like, “uh, yeah, no you didn’t…at all.”
I just realized I’m harking on this movie too much. It is enjoyable, and a very decent watch if only for the performances. Kate Hudson is better here than she has been in quite a long time, and Dan Stevens plays an excellent sleazy lawyer on the prosecution. What makes the movie is Chadwick Boseman (he’s Black Panther and Jackie Robinson if you didn’t know that already). He is incredible in this and is worth the price of admission alone. But the movie will make you crave for a biopic. If one is made, bring Boseman along for the ride and I’ll gladly join it.