The Lincoln Lawyer
Review by Rob Carnevale
MATTHEW McConaughey’s return to the legal profession for the first time since 1996’s rousing A Time To Kill proves to be every bit as enjoyable in The Lincoln Lawyer, an old-school legal thriller that offers gripping entertainment.
Based on Michael Connelly’s popular novels, the film sets up a typically intriguing moral and legal conundrum and then sets a great cast loose in trying to work things through.
McConaughey plays the Lincoln lawyer of the title, Michael ‘Mick’ Haller, a cock-sure defence lawyer who does business from his car and who boasts strong street-wise credibility with those he represents. He has a fondness for women, a liking for booze and a formidable reputation as an ‘ass-hole’.
When called upon to defend a Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) accused of battery and attempted rape, Haller appears to have an open and shut case with get rich quick rewards.
But as he delves deeper into some of the case’s anomalies, he begins to realise nothing is what it seems and that he could have been tricked into defending a guilty man with a dubious history.
Brad Furman’s film has plenty of things in its favour, from the strong ensemble cast to John (Hill Street Blues, LA Law) Romano’s astute, witty, dialogue-driven script.
McConaughey is better than he’s been for some time in the central role, expertly combining the brash arrogance of the film’s opening chapters with the vulnerability and sense of desperation required for the last act.
But he’s capably supported by some high calibre names in even the smallest of roles, with William H Macy on particularly standout form as his private investigator, Marisa Tomei good, if under-written, as his ex-wife, and Phillippe revelling in his dark, twisted possible killer.
Watch out, too, for Michael Pena, John Leguizamo, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Mason, Frances Fisher and Josh Lucas in variously appealing roles, lending satisfying weight to the increasingly heightened drama.
Romano’s script also deserves credit for being able to consistently keep even the most astute legal minds on their toes (in spite of a trailer that gives too much away) by delivering some nice twists and intriguing moral and ethical dilemmas for the Haller character to ponder.
The Lincoln Lawyer is therefore a solid and hugely entertaining crowd-pleaser that unquestionably gets a recommended verdict.
Running time: 120mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 25, 2011