The Lincoln Lawyer is - surprisingly - even better than the previews made it look - and the previews looked pretty good. The story, starring Hollywood heavy weights Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillipe, is compelling; the actors make this film relevant and interesting from start to finish.
McConaughey is known for playing slick, smooth, and charming leading men, and The Lincoln Lawyer is no exception. He is a sleazy attorney who seems to be in the biz just for the cold hard cash, but there's a soft side to this smooth-talking defense lawyer and McConaughey nails both sides of this character.
The Lincoln Lawyer centers around criminal defense lawyer Mick Haller. Haller is known for keeping criminals on the streets by getting them off the hook - for a price. He does all his business out of the back of an old Lincoln town car, with the occasional help from driver Earl (Lawrence Mason). He takes on a case involving a Beverley Hills playboy, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), accused of rape and attempted murder of a prostitute (Margarita Levieva). He soon learns the case is not as cut and dry as original thought and Roulet may not be the innocentvictim of a set up.
The cast also includes Marisa Tomei as Maggie, a prosecutor and Mick's ex-love; William H. Macy as Mick's investigator; and Josh Lucas as the D.A trying Roulet's case.
The Lincoln Lawyer is a flashback to some of the best legal dramas of the '90s. It is smooth and smart in its scripting and execution. Nothing in this film seems forced or phony.
This is Matthew McConaughey at his best. He does a great job as Mick Haller, although sometimes his cocky nature can come across more arrogant than charming, it completely works for this one. McConaughey isn't new to legal dramas - A Time To Kill and Amistad come to mind - and while he was great in those two films, he brings a maturity this time around that makes him that much more charming and compelling in his role.
The plot keeps you guessing right from the start and there isn't a dragging moment in the whole thing. We find out early on what is really going in the Roulet case, so it doesn't feel like the film is a forced two hours of whodunit. The story takes an interesting twist when Haller grows a conscience and sets out to right a past wrong that's connected with his current case.
Tomei delivers a great performance as Maggie, Heller's ex-wife and mother of his daughter. The two obviously still have a strong attraction to one another and the back and forth between them is intoxicating and mesmerizing. Macy is also great in his role as Heller's investigator and he brings the right amount of humor and sarcasm in his banter with Mick - we wouldn't expect anything less from Macy.
Not much negative to say about this film as I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable. The one area that seemed a little contrived were the courtroom scenes. They came across as much too dramatic and over-the-top compared to the rest of the film.
Overall, director Brad Furman brings us a film that is entertaining and satisfying. He keeps the audience invested in Mick's life and even though Mick is a charming SOB who is mostly concerned with making money and seems to lack a conscience, we see his turnaround throughout the film and are rooting for him till the end.