Marshall Movie Review
Who knew that a movie about the first black Supreme Court Justice would star most prominently Josh Gad. Yes, the movie Marshall says it stars Chadwick Boseman, but oddly director Reginald Hudson decided to focus on a case where the attorney wasn't even allowed to talk in court.
It really makes no sense.
Marshall, about Thurgood Marshall, presents an interesting dynamic, one in which the title character has to whisper what to say to a reluctant, less accomplished white lawyer to defend a black man accused of raping a white socialite. It highlights Marshall’s charisma, determination and savvy as well as Sam Friedman’s foray into civil rights advocacy.
But not only is Gad given just about every big courtroom scene, even supporting actor Sterling K. Brown, as defendant Joseph Snell, is given more to do (and does a great job doing it). Boseman is good, but hardly memorable; Gad is the showstealer after he gives what could be the best performance of his career.
The trial itself, while a part of Marshall’s ascendancy to bigger and more important cases, isn't all that interesting, at least after decades of similar courtroom dramas - both non-fictional and not - depict similar cases about innocent black men facing unlikely odds. It's all just routine, and that's what Marshall is: a routine drama that hits the right notes but doesn't tell us a ton about the title character other than that he would go on to do things that would make for better movies.
Despite its shortcomings, Marshall is an easy watch and a crowd pleaser; it's your standard courtroom drama, which means it is inoffensive and somewhat entertaining. Sadly, it also is neither groundbreaking nor informative.
Had Marshall focused on the man rather than those around him, this film could have been something. As is, it's pretty much nothing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.