Robert Downey Jr has had a great decade or so. He kicked things off by starring in Shane Black’s fantastic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005 and then hit the big time when he was cast as Tony Stark / Iron Man two years later. A couple of Sherlock Holmes movies for Guy Ritchie cemented his bankability and several billion dollars at the box office later, Downey is now one of the biggest stars on the planet. There’s just one thing: he hasn’t really pushed himself as an actor whilst scoring his mega paychecks. It’s good to see him make the comeback, but it’s hard to admire so many comic book movies without feeding the artistic soul.
His bankability and credibility away from blockbuster filmmaking will be tested with The Judge, a new courtroom thriller co-starring Robert Duvall. It’ll be interesting to see how Downey fares away from the action genre – the film is being positioned as a potential awards contender. The signs look good. This is the type of film Hollywood doesn’t make any more (kudos to Downey for using his clout to make it) and Robert Duvall is a great character actor who can still bring the goods after all these years.
Here’s the official synopsis:
In “The Judge,” Downey stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge (Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
However, will audiences be willing to pay to see for a 2 hour and 20 minute courtroom drama, a genre which has now become synonymous with television? Time will tell but if the film fails then I fear we’ll not only lose Robert Downey Jr as an ‘actor’, but the opportunity to see thoughtful studio filmmaking from Hollywood.
The Judge opens in the UK on 17 October 2014.