"The Lincoln Lawyer" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
What should a criminal defense lawyer do if they know their client is guilty for not only the specific crime they're being tried for, but other crimes as well? That is the subject of Brad Furman's "The Lincoln Lawyer", adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. The movie, which stars Matthew McConaughey in the titular role, is a great psychological thriller about whether or not to do the right thing in a matter that could cost someone their life.
McConaughey stars as Mickey Haller, a criminal defense lawyer who is as smug as he is smart. He rides around town thinking he owns the place, which is a big reason his wife (Marisa Tomei) divorced him after having a daughter. He thinks he is the best lawyer around, and will overcharge his clients who he knows will pay his ridiculous fees. So, when he gets assigned to a client that comes from a very rich family, he is easily inclined to take the role as the defense lawyer in the case.
The young man is Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), who is charged with brutally beating a prostitute after paying for her services. He swears up and down that he didn't do what he is being accused of, which prompts Haller and his investigator, Frank Levin (William H. Macy), to start looking into this case and how they can successfully defend their client. However, the deeper and deeper they look into the case, the more they realize something shady is going on in the background, causing them to put aside all professional matters to protect themselves and other women from having this happen to them.
This role practically rejuvenates McConaughey's career. He is a terrific actor, and was playing some very good roles at the start of his career. However, he started to do a bunch of mediocre Rom-Com films throughout the 2000's, which practically destroyed his credibility as a successful actor and leading man. Then, this movie comes around, and shows audiences why McConaughey is leading-man material.
He practically oozes charm and charisma throughout this movie. He thinks he is the hot shot lawyer, and that he will get his client off in practically every case. He acts sort of like he doesn't care and that it comes easily to him, when in reality, he puts personal investment and stock into his career and every client he defends. He is able to practically switch the character's mood and attitude so quickly that he is constantly keeping the viewer, and the other characters, on their toes throughout the entire runtime.
In addition to the leading role, the other cast members do an excellent job of playing these characters right alongside him. Tomei and Phillippe do a fantastic job of interacting with his character, and holding their own against him. They don't act intimidated or take any flak from his character, which shows them as being strong characters in their own right.
The plot is excellent, and brilliantly written. John Romano is able to take Connelly's novel, and bring it to life on the screen. He doesn't make much of a big deal out of the plot twists or the shocking moments in the movie, but has them in there like it's any normal scene. This allows the viewer to catch on to what the filmmakers are doing, and shows the real-life qualities of life being very unexpected and not building up to something that is pay-off at the end. This plot is basically telling the life of this lawyer and this case he is involved in, and nothing more.
By the time the credits roll, the movie will have left the viewers thinking about what they have just witnessed and how it all makes sense. There are a lot of questions that were answered, but there are also a lot that are left up to the viewer's perception of how they viewed those events. It really makes the viewer think, which is the perfect quality for a film like this.