Chadwick Boseman is choosing his roles very well at the moment, and seemingly treading the Tom “Always on the good side” Cruise path to fame and glory (even in Message From The King he was doing nasty stuff, but for a good reason. I’m sure that this counts!). In Marshall he plays the role of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American supreme court judge. This film, set in 1940, recounts one of his earliest trials from his younger days working for the NAACP defending a coloured driver accused of rape against a white woman. This is Thurgood’s day to day life, travelling the country and defending people of colour who have been the victims of racial bias in the legal system.
In such a one sided system, time and again Thurgood comes up against extra obstacles and has to think his way around what is put in his way: such as not being allowed to speak in the court for the aforementioned trial. Along with this Thurgood needs a partner (Sam Friedman, an insurance lawyer with no court experience), firstly to invite him into the local bar (to enable him to practise law in this state) and then, when he can not speak in court, to play out the work, notes and tactics that Thurgood has devised. And to top it all off, the Judge for this case is a family friend of the State Prosecutor.
With everything stacked against them it is undoubtedly a struggle, with no-one giving them a chance of getting this man off the hook.
Boseman is really good as Marshall, Josh Gad (Olaf from Frozen!) also does well in standing up to the plate and taking on Thurgood’s teachings and learning quickly and well. Sterling K Brown has little to do other than be the focus of people’s attention as the accused driver Joseph Spell, similarly Kate Hudson as his accuser. Dan Stevens is suitably arrogant as Loren Willis the prosecutor and James Cromwell sits perfectly in the judge’s chair.
Whilst the story is fairly interesting there is nothing that really stands out in this film. Yes, there is some great investigating and some really good court-room action but it never really gets going on either front and ends up feeling a little bit derivative, leaving you feeling a little bit let down when the credits role, even though the real life stories of what these men accomplished are something special.