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Marshall: Boseman and Gad prove an unlikely force

When I first saw the marketing for the latest biopic on civil rights, and that it had Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War) as its top billed actor, I rolled my eyes. This would be yet another unimaginative rehashing of history that would hinge its impact heavily on the civil rights movement and racism. Then I went and saw the movie, and I was proven wrong.

Starring Boseman and Josh Gad (The Wedding Ringer) as its two leading men, Marshall revolves around one of the many court cases in which NAACP lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, finds himself up against a wall. This particular case involves the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man. Marshall comes to the man’s aide in order to find justice not only for this man, but also for black people everywhere in America.

I have never been a fan of Boseman’s performances, as he has always come across as a surface-level actor. He never really seemed to show the proper “umph” that the truly greatest actors show. However, in Marshal,l he gives the best performance that I have seen from him to date. The same goes for Gad, as he, like Boseman, was able to show that he has some redeemable qualities as a dramatic actor. The real winner for me in this film was from two-time Emmy winning actor, Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) who played the man accused, Joseph Spell. Even though he was on the screen for less time than both Boseman and Gad, Brown stole the show with a truly moving performance as a supporting character.

Marshall exceeded my expectations from a directorial standpoint. It is far from a masterpiece, but Reginald Hudlin’s direction (Serving Sara) was refreshing to see. He implemented some clever tracking shots, which for me shows the progression of a director from amateur to professional. The pacing was also pleasing, as there was never a moment where I wanted the movie to end. It kept up the suspense right up until the end.

While I am singing Marshall’s praises, I do not want you to think that this film is flawless. The biggest area for improvement was the dialogue. In scenes of dialogue between characters, I found that they regurgitated the same line two or three times, only it was worded a little differently. While in some moments this is great for effect, the redundancy makes for a rather dry spell of dialogue. As audience members, we like to be invigorated by what the characters on the screen say, no? And when they say the same thing over and over again, we quickly lose interest.

Dialogue and unoriginal story structure aside, Marshall substantiates itself as an above average film. It does so by capitalizing on the unique chemistry between Boseman and Gad, while also employing the acting talents of up-and-coming stars like Brown. This is definitely a movie you should go see, as it exceeds expectations while giving you faith in the common man.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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