Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

April 6, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

Initially, I thought the prospect of watching a movie involving the law and Matthew McConaughey’s acting would be too much for me to swallow.  But somehow, I found myself in the cinema checking out The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling book of the same name.

And I was surprised.  Pleasantly surprised.  The Lincoln Lawyer‘s protagonist Mickey Haller seems to have been tailor made for McConaughey (in what must be the performance of his life), and as legal thrillers go, this one is pretty darn compelling.

McConaughey is Haller, a criminal defense attorney who has no qualms representing and freeing shady characters.  He is driven around in a Lincoln Town car (and hence the lame name) and has an ex-wife (who turns out to be a prosecutor) played by Marisa Tomei.  One day he’s called to represent Louis Roulet, an iffy playboy played by Ryan Phillippe, who has been charged with attempted rape and murder.

That’s all I’ll go into, but The Lincoln Lawyer‘s plot is much more complex than that.  There are the usual twists and turns, the dangerous confrontations and the exciting courtroom drama scenes.  It’s one of those films where all the threads are eventually tied together, so you should pay close attention to or you may risk missing a connection.

Truth be told, this is a formulaic legal thriller.  What makes The Lincoln Lawyer better than most other films of this kind is the strong story and, it pains me to say this, McConaughey’s charming performance.  I’m used to him being a smug douche, but here he exhibits genuine range and carries the film on his back from start to finish.

Marisa Tomei is also excellent, bringing a presence to character who would have otherwise been rather forgettable, as were Ryan Phillippe and one of my favourites, William H Macy, as Haller’s best friend and investigator.

One major complaint I have was the first few scenes of the film, which were inexplicably shot with an extremely shaky handy cam that loved weird close ups.  I started out thinking, if the rest of the film was going to be like this, it’s going to be very difficult to sit through.  Fortunately, director Brad Furman’s style quickly settled down and prevented a disaster.

The Lincoln Lawyer is far from perfect, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.  Genuinely good legal thrillers capable of capturing an audience’s attention for two fours are hard to come by these days, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

4 stars out of 5