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The Lincoln Lawyer
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Frances Farmer, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy and  Michael Pena
Director: Brad Furman
Scriptwriter: John Romano from the novel by Michael Connelly
Rated R for violence, unsettling images and language
Running Length: 115 minutes

The first time we saw Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer was in the Grisham book-to-screen flick, A Time To Kill. This time around he takes on the role of Mick Haller in a film based on a Michael Connelly novel, The Lincoln Lawyer. It is safe to say that most of us enjoy a well penned legal thriller. And though many will not admit it in public, we all love that McConaughey swagger. He seems to slip easily into a role as if he has been playing the character his whole life; yet with subtle differences that keep away repetition. 

Connelly got the idea for the story after talking to a real attorney at a sporting event who just happened to office out of the back of his car. In this movie Mick Haller cruises the streets of LA in a large, black Lincoln with NTGUILTY on the plates. He has a reputation of getting the scum back on the streets. When a wealthy, high profile client (Ryan Phillippe) solicits his services Mick finds himself in a twisty, cat and mouse game of justice juggling. He soon learns that sometimes attorney-client privileges can truly bind your hands from getting to the truth. Luckily in spite of the title this film spends as much time in the courtroom as it does the back seat of a sweet ride.

The cast is not only well known but heavy hitters who deliver exactly what their characters need. Phillippe has the ability to carry himself in pampered, polite society yet can turn on a fire in his eyes that will chill you. His character has been accused of abusing a young woman in her apartment but swears his innocence vehemently. The prosecuting attorney is played by Josh Lucas. The third pretty face in the mix. I like Lucas in this role and he delivers some real emotion as he battles it out with Haller. It is subtle and realistic. Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, and John Leguizamo round out the players.

The writing is intricate and tricky. You have to pay attention to the minor characters early on or you might stumble a bit. Everything is woven together and this makes for a tight, unique take on the courtroom genre. This is a lot more than simply a legal motion. Haller has to creatively manipulate the system, staying one step on the good side of the line. It is a tight rope that would take a shifty mindset. One that Haller certainly has. The dialogue between Haller and his client escalates as the movie continues. This keeps you interested and the tension high until the final scene. 

The Lincoln Lawyer is rated R for some violence, sexual content and language. The violence is TV drama in nature with minimal bloodshed. Most of the violence is in the form of visual evidence of the crime. The language is what you would expect from an R rated crime drama but it isn’t overboard or gratuitous. It goes without saying that you should leave your 16 and under members at home. I enjoyed it and it is an above board date film. Just know your mate. I give it 4 out of 5 parking tickets. Films with any sort of depth are often rare this time of year so I was very pleased to see this one deliver. So says Matt Mungle.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

You don't want to pay rent for an office?  Just drive around in a Lincoln Town Car like Matthew McConaughey as Mick Haller in “Lincoln Lawyer.” Mick can do suave and one-liners in his job as a lawyer to clients who certainly look guilty and have questionable ethics. Pay comes first and always tell Mick the truth, though he can shake things around a bit for his purpose. This film is adapted from the book by Michael Connelly, and he does wrap the audience round and round with the interplay between Mick, his ex-wife Marisa Tomei, Mick’s investigator William H. Macy, and the latest client, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe.) What a web is woven here, and let’s not forget Mick’s Mom, Frances Farmer.
We meet Mick (well played by McConaughey) being chauffeured in his black Lincoln, doing business in various parts of the city. Mick shares custody of a daughter with lawyer and ex-wife, Tomei. Mick keeps files in a spare room somewhere, but business is done in the Lincoln. Enter a new case where the accused, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) specifically asks for Mick. Roulet’s wealthy family (Frances Farmer) doesn't know why, but soon warms to the lawyer’s crafty ways with the law. Mick’s investigator (William H. Macy in an intriguing role) doesn't trust Roulet, but Mick thinks the kid is innocent of assault on a prostitute. It looks as though the girl had help in staging a beating to extract money from a wealthy family. Who is telling the truth here?  Bit by bit interesting pieces of information come out and the cat-and-mouse game begins to be carried out in a courtroom in front of witnesses.
Matthew McConaughey can look lean and mean, but in the beginning of the film, he just looks friendly. As the story progresses, friendly goes out the door and lean, frightened, mean and crafty come into play on his face. It is a good role for him. Ryan Phillippe gives us angelic and this is what his mother believes. An almost unrecognizable William H. Macy steals his scenes, and John Leguizamo does a good bondsman in a dangerous business. Marisa Tomei and Matthew McConaughey have screen chemistry and you can believe that his life style is what drove them apart.
All in all, “Lincoln Lawyer” is a good ride exploring what goes on behind the scenes in the lawyer business. Often times, it is who you know that turns the tide and remembering people at Christmas time helps. The film is actually divided in half. The first half offers us a look into Mick’s world with snappy one-liners. The last half is fearful with consequences looming everywhere. Acting is what carries the film. There are enough twists and turns to keep you occupied and wonder if Michael Connelly has written more books about Mick Haller.
Copyright 2011 Marie Asner




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