T he ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ is a surprise. I thought it was going to be terrible; the trailer looked awful – and Matthew McConaughey hasn’t done anything decent since ‘A Time To Kill’ and ‘Contact’ in the late 1990’s. With crap like ‘Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past’ , ‘Fools Gold’ and ‘Two For The Money’ (to name a few) – his films are best avoided.
He however, makes up for all those sh*ty films with ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ – it’s a great performance in a great film – and it all surprised the hell out of me.
McConaughey plays Mickey Haller; a successful criminal defense attorney. He operates his ‘office’ from the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car – he is a fast talker; and manages to keep his incredibly sharp legal skills alive; by traveling around the lower parts of Los Angeles in the Lincoln.
He stays street smart by actually being on the street.
He soon lands a huge case; in which he has to defend the shady and wealthy playboy Roulet (played by Ryan Philippe). Roulet is accused of brutally beating a prostitute, and the case complicates when Haller’s investigator Frank (William H. Macy), a previous client Jesus (Michael Pena),and his ex-wife Maggie (Marisa Tomei) all get embroiled in a deadly cat and mouse game – that plays out in and outside the courtroom.
Its a court room thriller in the vein of John Grisham, but it pulls a few unique spins on things. The most awesome part of the movie is that it soon becomes evident that Roulet is a killer; and continues to murder witnesses behind the scenes. Now Mickey has to defend a client he knows is guilty – this situation gets messy quick and his family are threatened and the web of conspiracy gets bigger and bigger.
John Leguizamo shows up, as does ‘Breaking Bad’s’ Bryan Cranston; playing a small role as a detective – but the character I enjoyed the most was Ted Minton (played by Josh Lucas); the prosecuting lawyer opposing Mickey. The two clash in ways that are really enjoyable.
There are many things going on in ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ and director Brad Furman manages to keep things going at a brisk and suspenseful pace – it is shot somewhat erratically with the shaky cam and all – but the movie retains a distinct style and is often quite striking and cinematic; even though much of it takes place inside a courtroom.
It has an awesome soundtrack, and its all very slick. The plot does drag a little in the second act; but the third act takes some surprising and shocking turns -taking the movie into some dark and not often seen territory.
All of this is carried by McConaughey, who turns in a brilliant performance. He isn’t the only one – everyone turns in solid work; making the characters seem real and grounded. Even Ryan Philippe – who I always find awful (except in ‘MacGruber’) – was excellent.
The acting work and the direction; the cinematography etc all create this grounded reality that not only makes the world seem believable; but also brutal and engaging. If ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ lost fifteen minutes in the second act it would be tight as hell; and unmissable.
As it its; It’s still a well made and engaging movie, highly recommended.
9 out of 10.