{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Lincoln Lawyer - Movie Review

4 stars

They populate the TV airwaves like tenement cockroaches, but it’s been a while since a sharp legal thriller has graced the big screen… and even longer since Matthew McConaughey has done anything worth watching. But the two come together nicely in The Lincoln Lawyer, a film directed by Brad Furman and based on the best-selling book by Michael Connelly.

The film has a lot going for it: robust characters, a cool vibe, and deft direction that skillfully shepherds us through a rich, complex plot. We’re stimulated, while at the same time entertained. But The Lincoln Lawyer mines most of its success from a talented stable of actors, especially that of lead Matthew McConaughey. He’s Mick Haller, the quick-witted L.A. criminal defense attorney at the center of the tale.

Nick is a bottom-feeder of the type that gives attorneys a bad name, and us an endless supply of lawyer jokes. But it can be argued he’s the most important breed of lawyer, one who provides criminal defense to the plentitude of those who can barely afford it, but who need it most. He works out of the spacious back seat of an older-model Lincoln Towne Car (hence the title) chauffeured by a client working off a debt. He’s constantly on the run from courthouse to courthouse hoping to catch that big case that’ll put him over the top.

It comes in the form of snot-nosed, bratty, real estate agent named Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe) who is accused of raping and beating a local prostitute. Roulet insists it’s all an elaborate set-up, concocted by the girl and her bruiser pimp to knock him with a lucrative civil suit… and subsequent video surveillance seems to backup his story. Tempted by the deep pockets of Roulet’s well-connected mother and the seeming innocence of Roulet, Haller takes the case. After all, it’s not often he’s so convinced of his clients’ innocence, most of whom are eager to take a plea deal and get on with serving their time. This case offers the promise of quick resolution and some easy money. {googleads}

But things unravel almost immediately when Roulet’s story begins turning up more holes than a knitted afghan. But convinced he can get the D.A. to fold and drop the charges, Haller presses on, even ignoring the warnings of his veteran investigator (William H. Macy), and questionable character attributes brought up by prosecutor ex-wife (Marisa Tomei).

However, further investigation shows that not only is Roulet guilty as charged, but he also may have been involved in an earlier murder which wrongfully sent one of Haller’s former defendants to prison. Haller is helpless however, as attorney-client privilege prevents him from revealing what he knows. Cue the clever twists and turns and an intriguing game of attorney vs. client that pits Haller’s wealth of investigative resources against Roulet’s deep pockets. As a viewer, we feel equally invested in the proceedings. Can Haller rise to the challenge or is he just a legal hack who’s in over his head? We’re kept guessing as McConaughey’s charisma fuels the excitement and danger of a case that seems to be spiraling out of control.The Lincoln Lawyer - Blu-ray Review

A couple of missteps knock the film down a peg or two. Furman often tries to unnecessarily punch up the visuals with some gimmicky camera-work. He gets cutesy with a hand-held shaky cam trying to emphasize the film’s frantic pace, but the plot is riveting enough without bringing attention to the visual style. A few too many tacked-on climaxes also manage to lessen the impact of the story’s main payoff. A single conclusion would have worked better, but as it is, we’re never quite sure when to let go.

These minor nits aside, The Lincoln Lawyer is a taut, suspenseful courtroom thriller worthy of mention alongside many of the genre greats. It’s also a fascinating detective story filled with swarthy investigators, shady bail bondsmen, and palm-greasing lawyers. It’s a welcome return to significance for McConaughey as well as for courtroom dramas. Welcome back.


{2jtab: Film Details}

The Lincoln Lawyer - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for some violence, sexual content and language.
: Brad Furman
: John Romano
Matthew McConaughey; Ryan Phillipe, William H. Macy; Marisa Tomei; Josh Lucas
: Drama
Memorable Movie Quote:
"I made a mistake with that woman, and now she is trying to set me up."
The Lincoln Lawyer
Official Site:
Release Date: March 18, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
July 12, 2011

Plot Synopsis: In the gripping thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer," Matthew McConaughey stars as Michael "Mick" Haller, a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental sedan. Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter-variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of attempted murder.  However, what initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money pay-off swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

The Lincoln Lawyer - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 12, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (as download); DVD copy
Playback: Region A

Presented with a sharp-looking AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1, The Lincoln Lawyer is a total L.A. affair. Grimy and gritty with its smog-infested look, the film is a perfect pixilated look at the city. Exteriors are viscously ripe with realism and the interior shots are equally detailed.  Lots of shaky cam close-ups with fine and unforgiving detail. Blacks are solid and colors are finely presented. The sound, presented by a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, is equally superb making this a stellar HD experience.



  • None

Special Features:

While the supplemental material appears to be standard, fans of author Michael Connelly will be pleased by the interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses as he tours various spots in L.A.  The polished deleted scenes add a little bit more to soften McConaughey’s character and his relationship with his wife and his daughter, but don’t add enough to warrant inclusion in the movie.  The material is brief, yet interesting enough to be serviceable for the demands of the disc.

  • Making the Case: Creating ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (14 min)
  • Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road (10 min)
  • One on One with McConaughey and Connelly (5 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (4 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}