Well this is a surprise. I had missed out on this movie during it’s initial run. Personal issues if I remember correctly. But thankfully, life has gifted me the luck of seeing this movie one final time before it exists cinemas forever. Lucky day for me.
Now once more, I am uncultured swine. I think I’ve been aware of the name Thurgood Marshall, but I didn’t know much more than that. I didn’t know that he was a Supreme Court Justice, let alone the first black Supreme Court Justice. So I have no idea what he ever did in his time and what made him such a big deal. What can I say, education and I were never the best of friends. But I’d be lying if this movie didn’t peak my interest from its trailer.
The story looks like it’s about a young Thurgood Marshall (title of the film should have been “Thurgood Begins” just because) in the 40s trying to prove the innocence of a black man accused of raping a high class white woman.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Chadwick Boseman (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR , and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER  and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ), Josh Gad (MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS , FROZEN , and upcoming films LITTLE MONSTERS  and PARTY OF THE CENTURY ), and Sterling K. Brown (WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT ).
In support, we have Kate Hudson (DEEPWATER HORIZON , and the upcoming SISTER ), Dan Stevens (THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS , BEAUTY AND THE BEAST , and the upcoming APOSTLE ), James Cromwell (THE PROMISE , and the upcoming JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM ), Keesha Sharp (1 episode each of ELEMENTARY and MELISSA & JOEY), and John Magaro (THE FINEST HOURS , THE BIG SHORT , and the upcoming OVERLORD )
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Reginald Hudlin, known for SERVING SARA (2002) and 1 episode of NEW GIRL. Co-writing the screenplay are brothers Jacob and Michael Kaskoff. Jacob is known for stuff I’ve never seen or heard of, and Michael is making his feature film debut; congrats, sir. Composing the score is Marcus Miller, known for SERVING SARA. The cinematographer is Newton Thomas Sigel, known for X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016), and the upcoming BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018). Finally the editor is Tom McArdle, known for SPOTLIGHT (2015), and the upcoming WHAT THEY HAD (2018).
Overall, I’m more glad that I got to see this movie one final time in its last breath in theaters. Gotta appreciate awards season sometimes. I think the movie is going to be good, but what I really want to see is just how good Gad is. He hasn’t done a whole lot that I’ve liked him in, but this looks like one of his best moments. Legal dramas have a tendency to bore me.
This is my honest opinion of: MARSHALL
Set in Louisiana, circa 1940. Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) is a lawyer for the NAACP and has accepted a case. The case: Joseph Spell, a black man, has raped a high profile white woman, Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson). Joseph claims he is innocent. Thurgood, and his partner Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) set out to prove his innocence, even though Thurgood is forbidden from speaking in the court.
Sadly, I missed the first five or so minutes, but other than that, this was a pretty good film.
First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that Boseman brings his A-game. That was something of a given. But if there’s anyone that deserves a hat tip, it’s Gad. As anyone can tell you, I’m not generally his biggest fan. His most popular role, Olaf from FROZEN (2013), is one of the more annoying Disney characters in recent years in my opinion. Having said that, he’s had a pretty damn impressive 2017, what with his equally solid turn in ORIENT EXPRESS. But whereas his role was supportive and easily overshadowed by the many other great talent at his side, here, his dramatic side is almost front and center, making this what I believe to be his career best. Sam is clearly a man out of his element. He’s a fresh lawyer about to take on a pretty big case, but as little to no real interest in it. But the deeper in the case he gets, assaulted by bigots who want him to drop the case, he still finds that willpower to carry on, even if it’s against his better judgment. But even if the drama is dropped, Gad is still given a few fun opportunities to deliver some comedy. I think it’s his most human performance and hope to see that carried over in his future endeavors.
Also, I may not be a jazz aficionado, but I am an avid fan of the Fallout video game franchise. So when I hear a song that I’m familiar with, such as “Keep a Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In”) by Louis Jordan, immediately gets my seal of approval. The acting is solid all around, even Hudson gets a few brilliant subtle moments that stand out for me. It gets you angry in all the right ways about the segregation of the time and how even, ironically in a courtroom, a black lawyer can’t say much during the sessions themselves (or maybe it’s because Thurgood wasn’t from town).
I think about the only real question mark that I have about the movie is… how was this case one of Thurgood’s defining cases? He was barely ever able to speak in it. If anything, it’s more Sam Friedman’s defining case, as he was the face of the defendant’s arguments. The judge rarely acknowledged Thurgood at all and practically gave the case to Sam. Granted, everything that Sam was saying, or a good chunk of it, was under Thurgood’s influence, but it was ultimately Sam that closed the case and won. Maybe it’s a perspective thing, or even creative liberties with the movie, but this still feels a little inaccurate to say.
Overall, this is one of the better legal dramas that I’ve seen in years. Easy to follow the legalities, easy to get behind the characters, terrific acting, everything that makes for a solid and enjoyable film. It’s likely not in theaters anymore, but if you’re lucky and it’s still out, I recommend it. If not, then a solid recommendation as a rental. All should rise for the honorable MARSHALL.
My honest rating for MARSHALL: 4/5