The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer (DVD Cover)

Cast: Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey), Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei), Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), Ted Minton (Josh Lucas), Val Valenzuela (Lohn Leguizamo), Jesus Martinez (Michael Peña), Cecil Dobbs (Bob Gunton), Mary Windsor (Frances Fisher), Detective Lankford (Bryan Cranston), Frank Levin (William H. Macy)

Director: Brad Furman

Theatrical release: 03/18/2011
DVD Date: 07/12/2011

Rating: R
Running Time: 119 minutes

Note(s): Adapted from the novel The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly.

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The Lincoln Lawyer

Review: I'll start off by saying that I was deeply disappointed when I first read that Matthew McConaughey had landed the part of Mickey Haller in this film adaptation of Michael Connelly's bestseller. I thought he was completely wrong to play the character and that his generally goofy acting style — even when he's in dramas — would ruin an otherwise potentially exciting film. Well, I am thrilled to say that I was wrong in prejudging the actor, as he is quite good in the role of the defense attorney, who gets the case of his career only to have the tables turned on him.

The film opens with a few scenes showing that Mickey Haller is a player. He plays the legal system to his advantage, knows the angles and makes deals that favor his clients. In short, he's the kind of attorney you'd want on your side if you were arrested. Though he seems to barely get by — he has no office, working from the back seat of his aging Lincoln Town Car, hence the book's and film's title — he's retained by a wealthy playboy, Louis Roulet, who's been arrested for brutally assaulting a prostitute. Haller doesn't necessarily believe that he's innocent, but he's represented guilty clients before and besides, his job is to present a defense that wins him a not guilty verdict in court. But he soon makes a connection between his current case and one from several years back, in which his client was imprisoned for a crime of which he vehemently claimed he was innocent. Haller, the player, realizes he's the one being played here, and comes up with a plan to win the game.

The storyline of The Lincoln Lawyer is well conceived and constructed and moves forward at a fairly rapid clip, which helps one overlook some of the unfortunate gaping plot holes in the script. (I actually haven't read the book, so don't know if these plot … let's call them discontinuities … exist there as well.) It takes Haller way too long to catch on why, of all the lawyers in Los Angeles, Louis Roulet specifically picked him as his defense attorney. Haller's driver always seems to be around when he's not needed, but is conveniently absent when his presence would actually be helpful. The twist at the end — one that isn't needed, by the way — comes completely out of left field with no foundation whatsoever. And so on. My other little quibble involves Haller's relationship with his ex-wife. This kind of thriller has no need for romantic interludes, and I continue to be puzzled why directors/screenwriters — and yes, even novelists — insist on including them when they break up the pacing of the story and generally add no value at all.

Still and all, I enjoyed The Lincoln Lawyer. As befitting a legal thriller, there are a couple of courtroom scenes, and the setup to them as well as execution thereof are handled quite well. . And I liked that there was some action, but not too much; this is far more of an intellectual film than an action-oriented one.

Connelly has written three subsequent books (to date) featuring Mickey Haller, so there's no shortage of material to work from. The door was left open at the end of this film for a sequel, so here's hoping someone is already planning filming it.


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