'The Lincoln Lawyer' Review: Fast-Paced, Intelligent Legal Thriller
The new drama "The Lincoln Lawyer" skillfully shows off the talents of both its director Brad Furman and its star Matthew McConaughey. Furman, who previously served as an assistant to Julia Roberts, ably directs this high-profile picture and McConaughey proves that he can still do great work with a strong script. With a solid director and a strong star,“The Lincoln Lawyer” is a fast-paced and smart legal thriller that will keep audiences intrigued until its final frame.
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McConaughey plays Mick Haller, known for his skills as a defense attorney and for the Lincoln he rides around town. The film's title refers to Haller's mode of transportation. Haller has a driver but he's still the one usually in control. Inside and outside of the courtroom, Haller knows how to manipulate people (including his own clients) to do what he wants despite their own wishes. Most of his clients aren't solid citizens; they range from accused killers to members of a motorcycle gang. At one point, Haller is asked how he sleeps at night considering his clientele. The question rolls off of his shoulders. He sleeps just fine.
Haller’s newest client is Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), an entitled child of privilege accused of beating up a prostitute. Like Haller, Roulet's cockiness is apparent immediately. He treats the accusations against him like a fly that needs to be swatted. Although he was found in the prostitute’s apartment after the beating, he doesn’t even consider accepting a deal. He’s not guilty, he tells Haller. All deals are off the table.
At first, Haller thinks that he can take advantage of the pretentious playboy and walk away a rich man. His plans are short-sighted.
What starts out as a typical case turns into something different as the story continues. Revealing more of the plot could ruin some of the story’s many twists and "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a ride you want to take not knowing where it's headed. Early on, one fact is clear though. This script, adapted from the novel by Michael Connelly, is sharp and smart. The dialogue crackles along from beginning to end as characters are introduced and new revelations come to light.
With his Southern charm and a swagger that intimidates even his toughest clients, McConaughey seems born to play Haller. He can charm everyone he wants whenever he needs something from them. McConaughey is surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Phillippe, who wasted his acting abilities in last year’s atrocious “MacGruber,” is great as the self-important son of privilege. Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy are also solid as Haller’s ex-wife and his private investigator, respectively.
“The Lincoln Lawyer” is another fine entry in the field of legal thrillers. It joins 2007’s “Fracture” as recent thrillers that are actually exciting to watch. Like "Fracture," some of the twists in “The Lincoln Lawyer” disappoint but the ride needs to be taken.
At the end, some of its flaws become more apparent as the unbelievable coincidences pile up. However, when you start questioning them, the credits have already started to roll. "The Lincoln Lawyer" has gotten away without a scratch and it looks like the movie wouldn't have it any other way.