Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

Posted March 15th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is a smart take on the typical legal thriller that works due to the unforeseen twists and turns throughout. It may not have been expertly crafted and in no real way is extraordinary but it certainly is captivating.

The title refers to Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) a lawyer who’s office is literally the back of his Lincoln Town Car. He picks up a case involving an entitled playboy from a rich family Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) accused of beating a woman to near death and attempting to rape her. There is much more to the case and involvement of the parties than initially realized. Less time is spent in the courtroom and more on the investigative side as Mick starts to put the pieces together as well as try and right the wrongs of a previous case.

In a refreshing change of pace The Lincoln Lawyer doesn’t waste time throwing misdirection at the audience. The guilt or innocence of Louis is established early in the film. Instead of the “did he or didn’t he” question it is the ramifications of that which drives the developments thereafter. Mick has to deal with some difficult circumstances due to this, in which he is clearly boxed in but must find a solution that isn’t immediately apparent.

The developments occur at a breakneck pace, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does so at the expense of properly setting up context and fleshing out side characters. Scenes with Mick and his ex-wife (played by Marisa Tomei) feel particularly out of place and unnecessary. Establishing a family element was important but the scenes with the two of them served little purpose and meant less screen time for other more compelling characters.

The direction is occasionally shaky and the cinematography uninspired. Despite that the strong story and performances carried the film from just the basic courtroom thriller to something more unpredictable and in the process quite enjoyable. The Lincoln Lawyer succeeds through its compelling scenario and a series of interesting and daring twists.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Lincoln Lawyer is rated R and opens on March 18th.