At the box office, Matthew McConaughey has had a number of critic duds (mainly of the romcom genre). For audiences though, most people love the charisma he brings. With this 2011 drama he just may have redeemed himself with critics. The Lincoln Lawyer is that one role where she can use both his charismatic persona and show off some real acting too.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) Film Review
Mick Haller (McConaughey) conducts business in unique ways. He builds his reputation as a smooth-talking lawyer who gets results. The difference is, he doesn’t have a tenth-floor office to go with this. Instead, he conducts business in the back of his Lincoln town car. Unfamiliar with defending the innocent guy, a parole officer brings Mick an unusual case. Arrested on complaints of attempted rape and assault, his newest acquired client comes from a wealthy family. Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) claims he is innocent of the charges, and the questions start out routine. Reviewing the evidence against his client, Mick begins to find inconsistencies and has doubts about Louis’ story. This prompts him to bring in his P.I. friend Frank Levin (William H. Macy) to investigate the case.
Evidence turns up that somehow connects to a case from Mick’s past and proof that could prove detrimental. Bound by attorney-client privilege, Mick has his hands tied. Then when the woman (Marisa Tomei) he still loves and their young daughter are threatened, every choice becomes a risk.
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Watching this is kind of like seeing the lead character battle his personal daemons in addition to fighting actual threats. The story is both gripping and spontaneously engaging. There’s this interesting quality that makes this tense thriller very watchable likely thanks to a script that doesn’t overcomplicate anything. The story appropriately stalls and teases, twists and surprises, all in manners that engrosses the viewer. The film has a good set-up, and I like how well writers keep our attention; there is vacillation (for a time) between Louis’ guilt or innocence; Mick’s fight for justice; and the concluding suspense. In a more fun aspect, there’s a nice rapport between Mick and his driver. Maybe not the most complex of recent years, the screenplay is actually well-written in all these expressions.
Mick isn’t always the most likable hero. He has bad habits, ones that have legally been a bother for him, and that lack of control makes him someone to hope better for. What he resorts to when dulling pain isn’t healing and it makes us want better for him. Though I saw this edited, and only recently re-watched it, the movie is a decent courtroom drama that leaves us grasping for what will happen next.
Right from the opening credits (which are catchy), I like the movie. The acting is impressive even from its leading star. Surprisingly enough, everyone played off each other well. McConaughey proves he can do more than romantic leading man. He and Ryan’s scenes are forceful; I like how both have such a cool demeanor that even overflows outside the courtroom. They are the other’s equal in terms of holding their own and both play this well. Something that helps elevate this as something worth seeing for those who enjoy good faceoffs.
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You can find The Lincoln Lawyer digitally on Amazon Video
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Content: The R-rating of this is appropriate. There’s over forty uses of strong and commonplace profanity including three of the f-bomb, dozens of sh*t , a**, he**, bi*ch; abuses of God/Jesus’s name. Graphic court testimony attests to rape, including that of a ten-year-old as do photos show a woman beaten and visual evidence of rape. Flashbacks depict various accounts of murder and what happened on the night the entire case revolves around (both have a man being hit over the head with a bottle, tussles with the woman and blood). Threats are directed to Mick; three people are shot, only one of which survives. Someone facilitates a beating. References are made to prostitutes and drugs. A divorced couple wind up sleeping together (there is some removal of clothing). There’s a couple of homosexual remarks and instances.