In the wake of a mixed reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, writer/director Dan Gilroy and actor Denzel Washington have reportedly “substantially reconfigured” their upcoming legal thriller “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”.
Washington stars as the title character, a soft-spoken and curmudgeonly 60-ish Los Angeles criminal attorney whose a legal savant with a wardrobe and ideals that come from the socially conscious 1970s.
Falling into existential crisis when his law partner suffers a fatal heart attack, and dealing with a slick former law student (Colin Farrell) who has been tasked with winding down the law practice, these changes send Israel down a dangerous path of temptation to replace altruism with materialism.
The project marks acclaimed scribe Gilroy’s second film after “Nightcrawler” and now the project has been recut to be a “much leaner, tighter and more focused drama” with a dozen minutes cut from the run time. A key scene was dropped, several have been re-ordered, and the film’s score has undergone a “radical change”.
The biggest changes are reportedly to Farrell’s character with a key scene set at a Lakers game where his character “drops his polished veneer to express a longing to embrace his former teacher’s morality lessons.” That scene was towards the end and has now been moved to the start – in doing so it caused a whole subplot to be redundant and thus be excised.
Washington and Gilroy reportedly spent weeks on the re-editing before Washignton got to work on “The Equalizer” sequel. Sony Pictures reportedly still plans opens the film in a platform run on November 10th ahead of a wide release for the Thanksgiving holiday.