Defend Your Honor!

The Judge (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
5 Out Of 5 Stars


Remember what’s important in your life and “defend your honor”!


What do you stand for?  What have you decided to be the path in which you will take in life?  The part you will play in society?  How do the relationships of those in your world fit in?  When push comes to shove, when your limits are drawing nigh, when you are put to the test, do you “defend your honor”?

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful defense attorney in Chicago.  Defending the morally corrupt and doing a good job at it, naturally he’s looked at infamously, but also highly respected for his talents.  He’s brought back to a grounded state when he’s forced to travel back to his home in a small town in Indiana for his mother’s funeral.  A place he’s left due to falling out with his father, the main judge of the court there, The Honorable Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall). 

Hank reunites with his brothers Dale (Jeremy Strong) and Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) who the latter was in a car accident back around college, hindering a prosperous career in baseball.  This is what spawned the separation of the family, as Hank was the one driving the car.  

He sees his ex-girlfriend Sam (Vera Farmiga) who had a daughter Carla (Leighton Meester) nine months after Hank ditched her at a Metallica concert.  This gets Hank wondering.

The reuniting of old memories during the funeral is also all throughout a deriving conspiracy involving the judge.  Apparently, one of his sentences was the victim of a hit and run; and the evidence matches that on the judge’s Coupe DeVille.  Hank and his father emotionally wrestle through their emotions and eventually, after some trial and error; Hank realizes what’s truly important in his life and “defends his honor”!  Talk about a re-direct in that climatic ending! 

Well, I must say, that I’m quite surprised that I’m one of the miniscule that truly enjoyed this film.  So many negative reviews with this one that I put it off until later, I still scratch my head as to why most people think it’s just so terrible or nowhere near great.  All throughout my experience I kept nodding my head in approval as the events unfolded.  My emotions were thoroughly stimulated as I experienced this well-told story.  I remember truly participating in genuine humor in some of the scenes with Downey Jr.’s likable character as he was his normal charismatic, quirky self.  I remember feeling my stomach twist in entanglement as the quarrels in and outside of the courtroom.  I remember connecting with the love interest, the family members, feeling the tension between father and son and wanting the healing to take place, I felt, I experienced, I engaged with this story, because I think it is a great one.  It didn’t wrap up too neatly in the end; it was left open with just enough for my imagination to do the rest.  This is great storytelling!

Remember what’s important in your life and “defend your honor”!

The Judge
Drama, 141 Minutes, R
Story by: David Dobkin & Nick Schenk
Screenplay by: Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque
Directed by: David Dobkin
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thorton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester 


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