The Judge (2014)
I really wanted to like this film; it tries so hard to instil some goodness in us and to be virtuous. In this sense, it reminds be of that kid we all had in our class at school who wanted to be good and kind, but then ended up talking a little too much about it. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it doesn't exactly bode for integrity and strength either.
That being said, The Judge has a couple of other aces up its sleeve which that kid at school didn't: the two Roberts in the cast. There's the ever-dependable Robert Duvall, who just turned 84, and whose work here therefore functions as an inevitable foreshadowing. His character is ageing, losing his way, about to peg out, but wants to do so with his pride intact. Duvall's strong sound performance mirrors this brilliantly. And then there's Robert Downey, Jr. who has polished his talkative, smug persona into perfection. He's brilliantly cast here, as an attorney with a mind so superior that he always seems to be bored of what others have to say; he's already worked out the response long before they've finished their utterances.
Neither of these characters are particularly likeable, but they are interesting because they have edge and purpose. And of course, there's the underlying conflict between the two, which bears promise, but which ultimately turns out to be a little clichéd, and by the end, it becomes apparent that director David Dobkin cannot quite guide this in. The Judge is almost a meritable film, just like the title character was almost an honourable man.