Plot: Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) has been accused of rape, but the case has drawn the attention of some powerful lawyers. As Spell is a black man accused of raping an affluent white woman, his chances at trial look bleak, but the NAACP has dispatched Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) to look into how deeply race plays into this case. Spell’s assigned attorney is Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), who is a skilled lawyer, but lacks criminal trial experience. He is hesitant to get too involved, as just being attached to the defense of Spell could cause him severe problems, both professionally and in his private life. But when the judge refuses to allow Marshall to head the defense, Friedman has to step up and handle the in court elements. The case seems like an uphill battle, but both Marshall and Friedman become determined to see things through, even if it means putting themselves at risk in the process. But even with their extensive legal maneuvers, can they win this tough case?
Entertainment Value: This movie is based on a real life court case that played a significant role in the civil rights battle, as well as launching two of the movement’s biggest advocates. Marshall would go on to join the United States Supreme Court, while Friedman would be a champion for civil rights as well, but before all that, the two men worked this controversial rape case. The choice to focus in one specific case was a wise decision, as it allows the pace to develop Marshall and Friedman, instead of rushing between peak moments in their lives. This approach also ensures there is a personal investment in the events, since we get to know all the main players, or at least the ones on Marshall’s side. Most of the opposition is presented as stereotypes without much depth, but this is about Marshall and Friedman, so I can see why much time wasn’t allotted to explore the others involved. As it is based on real life events, there’s not much tension about what happens, but the movie does well in building the characters, which is the real point here. I didn’t love Josh Gad, but Chadwick Boseman and Kate Hudson turn in fine performances. This is a character driven courtroom drama and for the genre, it hits most of the notes you want to see. So for fans of legal dramas or real life stories, Marshall is worth a look.
No nakedness. The crime in question is shown from different perspectives, but in either instance, no naked flesh or graphic sex is depicted. In terms of blood, a mild fight breaks out at one point, but just some bumps and bruises. The battles are fought in the courtroom for the most part, so the lack of flesh and blood is never a concern, not to mention the PG-13 rating involved. The dialogue is fine, but never stands out as overly memorable or inspirational. Just run of the mill legal drama type discussions, so while mostly well written, it is by the numbers stuff. No craziness, but this is a courtroom drama based on real life events, so to go wild would seem quite odd. Just a drama that does what dramas are supposed to do.
Overall Insanity: 0/10