Let's begin by recalling Jake Gyllenhaal’s bulging eyes in Dan Gilroy’s excellent thriller Nightcrawler. They are the eyes of a man who almost entirely lives in his head. With those eyes in mind, let's turn to the star of a new film that's also directed Gilroy, Roman J. Israel, Esq. Denzel Washington—a black American actor who has handled his Hollywood career far more prudently and effectively than, say, Will Smith—plays Mr. Israel, a man who, like Gyllenhaal's character in Nightcrawler, lives deep inside of his head. But we see his extreme inwardness not in his eyes but manner of walk.
Roman J. Israel is a lawyer who has a monstrous memory. He can recall with no effort all of the details of dead and forgotten cases; he also lives in his vivid dreams of a better and more just American society. He walks like his mind has no idea that it has a body. Each step Israel takes is as stupid and graceless as the one before it and the one to come. The film is not Washington’s best, but it, and that mindless/lumbering walk, will not disappoint Washington’s fans.