Pops is the chief murder suspect in a hit and run incident, and as Hank reluctantly takes on the case, old wounds are reopened as the father and son duo form an uneasy alliance and attempt to reconcile past differences. The Judge is a film much too in love with it's own sense of prestige and weight, which might account for the willfully self-indulgent two hour-plus running time - a major plot revelation could have easily arrived thirty minutes earlier than it actually does. When he isn't bathed in an ethereal light Downey Jr., unsurprisingly, does wounded and aloof rather well, and it's his combative scenes with the great Duvall which occasionally shake the film out of its staid, derivative state. They hint at the kind of meaty drama what could have been; one scene featuring the agonising physical vulnerability of Duvall's character feels like it's wandered in from a completely different feature. Add to this a sketchy and largely superfluous romantic subplot featuring an old flame of Hank's (Vera Farmiga, as the least convincing career waitress in moviedom) and we're left with a film that falls well short of its lofty pretensions.
Adam Lowes | @adlow76