The Lincoln Lawyer – film review

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Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer stars Matthew McConaughey as Michael Haller a Los Angeles criminal defence attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln sedan. Dermot Keogh reviews the latest release directed by Brad Furman.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H.Macy, Josh Lucas, Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo.

Directed by: Brad Furman

Rating:  * * * *

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Movie Synopsis:

Haller has spent most of his career defending run of the mill garden-variety criminals. That is until he lands what could possibly be the case of his career. He is hired to defend Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy accused of rape and attempted murder. But the seemingly straightforward case suddenly develops into a deadly game of survival for Haller.

Review:

“The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you screw up and he goes to prison, it’ll scar you for life” – Michael Haller

IT has been a few years since a decent courtroom thriller has graced the silver screen and I must admit that I was yearning for one before the Summer Blockbuster season kicks off in a few weeks. McConaughey who is in need of a hit is back in familiar territory after years of rom coms and various misses at the box office.  I think that his luck is about to change. The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid courtroom thriller that deserves to have the impact that Jagged Edge had some 25 years ago. McConaughey seems relaxed in this role and easily goes from suave lawyer, to doting father, to terrified victim with ease. As the film progresses so does McConaughey’s character and it is this progression that makes the many twists and turns in the film all that more believable. The little quirk he has of running his practice from the back of a Lincoln gives it something a little different to most legal thrillers and it is a contributory factor to this film’s success.  I will leave the plot details to the synopsis just in case I accidently give something away. I am only human after all.

Tomei who like McConaughey is also on the comeback trail which started with 2008’s The Wrestler is well cast in her role as Haller’s ex Maggie.  It is her character that gives Michael a vulnerability that makes him more human.  The ever reliable William H. Macy stars as Frank Levin who is Haller’s investigator/best friend/right hand man.  His character also contributes to Haller’s humanity and stops him from being just another sleazebag lawyer that we have seen in so many other movies. Macy’s role was originally intended for Tommy Lee Jones who was also due to direct but pulled out in the end due to a scheduling conflict.  Phillippe also brings his “A” game to the table. The interaction between Roulet (Phillippe) with Haller (McConaughey) give the film some of its’ finest moments.  Pena, Leguizamo and Cranston are little more than effective but integral cameos.  Several close ups and shaky hand held camera shots are used to great effect in creating sequences of tension and suspense. It is well paced and never dull. Credit for this must go to the director Brad Furman in what is his first major Hollywood outing. The script is well paced, witty when required and never short on story or thrills.

As legal thrillers go this is up there with Grisham’s best. The character of Michael Haller is interesting and deserves a few more outings. Unfortunately like all good movies the box office will decide his fate. Given that there are no other movies of this genre showing at the world wide box office at the moment it is a safe bet that this will be a success. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a twist filled edge of seat thriller these days.  After the last few weeks animated movies, action thrillers and sci fi extravaganzas The Lincoln Lawyer is like a breath of fresh air. This case comes highly recommended.