The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe and William H. Macy conferencing in the Lincoln Lawyer

Adapted for the screen by John Romano, based on the novel by Michael Connelly

Directed by Brad Furman

Starring Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe

A lot of what makes up the Lincoln Lawyer, based on the novel by ubiquitous legal thriller writer Michael Connelly, you can find ten times a week in police and legal procedurals on television. I can’t say it offers us anything new. However, what it does offer, it offers at the highest level of the game, giving us an old school soundtrack of 70’s flavored tunes, along with an old school style. There’s something very retro about the whole thing and it’s wonderful.

Matthew McConaughey is in top form as a hot shot defense attorney Mick Hailer, who will defend anybody for the right price- and only the right price. He’s got few to no scruples and he’s always on the go. If he’s not defending one client he’s picking up another, as soon as he leaves one court appearance he’s on to his next attorney-client consultation. McConaughey is perfectly cast in this role. His slow southern drawl, but sharp and fast tongue add wit and personality to a shark of a character. He also appears to be reaching deep into his acting repertoir, presenting a more gaunt frame from his normally muscular, healthy physique and giving a performance equal parts desperate and confident as he zips around between clients and responsibilities in the back of his old model Lincoln sedan, driven around by a former client who is more than happy to repay the workaholic lawyer, who is so busy he uses the back of the car as an office.

Ryan Phillippe is good as his main client, a wealthy real estate scion accused of rape. He’s very fiendish but very sincere. Phillippe hasn’t been this good since his turn in Robert Altman’s ‘Gosford Park’. To explain any more would be to give away the twists and turns, but I will say that Phillippe gives us a layered, fun performance that keeps us guessing. In fact, this film is filled with fun performances by a litany of fantastic character actors, such as William H. Macy in his Shameless hair as a private detective, Bryan Cranston in a blink-and-youll-miss-it appearance as a cop with a chip on his shoulder and Marisa Tomei as a prosecutor and McConaughey’s on-again-off-again flame. Shea Whigham, however, steals the show as an unscrupulous witness-for-hire.

The script doesn’t try to keep us guessing, seeming to spell out as much as possible so that when the big finale and inevitable twist comes, we’re blindsided by it, but it will be every bit as satisfying as the film makers intended.

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