The Lincoln Lawyer: When I first heard about this film I thought, “What – Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer, again?” It’s been 16 years since A Time To Kill and with the cover on show, I just thought this would be the kind of performance he’d just phone right in, without a care in the world. I was wrong.
And when I saw the trailer, I thought that after all that time since I saw him as a lawyer, he hadn’t aged at all, but you certainly can see he’s looking more ragged now.
In this movie, we see that, as Mick Haller, he’s not the ‘Dudley Do-Right’ of the legal profession as he was back then, but is more of a sleazy type, with most of his time spent racking up fees from bog-standard crimes such as drunks and narcotics possessions, while occasionally turning a blind eye to things that aren’t quite as legal as they should be, as long as it gets the job done. And that’s not just down to something as simple as you see at the start when he enters a courthouse and needs a case that’s due to come up later in the day, to actually happen as soon as possible – hence bribing the baliff, because he’s got to get across town to deal with a possible assault case that’s been brought to his attention by his contact at the court, Val Valenzuela (John Leguizamo).
Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) is accused of going to a woman’s apartment, after picking her up in a bar and beating her up on arrival, but he tells a completely different story when running through it all with Haller, in that *she* attacked *him*. As they discuss it, both scenarios are played out onscreen, like a flashback, so the viewer has no idea which one is correct – which is a nice touch.
The main case mixes in other, seemingly inconsequential, cases which get mentioned along the way, and with a number of twists and turns along the way, who can Mick Haller trust? However, there is one twist and turn too many towards the end, which just doesn’t make any sense.
As for the title, it’s because he drives a Lincoln car. Well, *he* doesn’t drive it. He has a chauffeur to do that for him. He took on Earl to drive him wherever he needs to be because he lost his licence, but now he has it back, it’s much easier to keep Earl on so he can use the car as his office and work on the go. In addition to this, his number plate reads NTGUILTY, even though – and it’s clearly artistic licence – it’s one extra chraracter than is allowed on a licence plate in LA.
Shot in Los Angeles, and with some gorgeous backdrops, the film does, understandably, spend a great deal of time in the courtroom – and it’s been quite some time since I saw a film do that, but it does make for an engaging watch in this case. Many other films might not have fared so well, but this one is superbly directed by Brad Furman, who is one director I haven’t come across before.
In the acting stakes, McConaughey puts his all into this film, as does Ryan Phillippe and there’s good support from Josh Lucas as the lawyer for the prosecution, Tim Minton. However, no-one else really pushes the boat out here, including William H Macy as Mick’s investigator Frank Levin, and Marisa Tomei as another prosecuting lawyer and also Mick’s ex-wife.
I’m inclined to give this film a 9/10 because it all works together so well and never disappoints except for one moment towards the end, but that’s just a brief blip. This is a must-see.
Note: This review is for the film-only.
Running time: 118 minutes
Released: July 2011
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Digital Intermediate (2K))
Director: Brad Furman
Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Scott Steindorff and Richard S. Wright
Screenplay: John Romano (based on the novel by Michael Connelly)
Music: Cliff Martinez
Mick Haller: Matthew McConaughey
Maggie McPherson: Marisa Tomei
Louis Roulet: Ryan Phillippe
Frank Levin: William H. Macy
Ted Minton: Josh Lucas
Val Valenzuela: John Leguizamo
Jesus Martinez: Michael Peña
Cecil Dobbs: Bob Gunton
Mary Windsor: Frances Fisher
Detective Lankford: Bryan Cranston
Earl: Laurence Mason
Reggie Campo: Margarita Levieva
DJ Corliss: Shea Whigham
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.