Directed by Brad Furman, Written by John Romano and Michael Connelly, 119 minutes, Rated R.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowtiz
From its stylish opening right down to its hardboiled plotting, “The Lincoln Lawyer” makes a good case for a new type of legal drama – one steeped in noir and Los Angeles intrigue.
Brad Furman’s surefire directing of Michael Connelly’s novel investigates with gusto, building an intricate and entertaining story led by the assured Matthew McConaughey, who finally puts his charm to good use outside the realm of goofy romcoms. And McConaughey attacks with everything he’s got, adding the poise of a Bogart private eye, juggling the underworld with ease.
Smooth-talking Defense attorney, Mick Haller (McConaughey), wins his cases by the books and keeps LA’s worst on the streets. He’s a hustler – though not without his own code of conduct. Haller helps those without option, those guilty until proven innocent, which makes him an easy target for prosecutors and DAs.
When Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), the rich son of a real estate mogul, finds himself in jail with charges of the attempted rape and murder of a prostitute, Haller’s the perfect man for the job. However, the more Roulet proclaims his innocence, the less likely it seems.
Saying anything more would spoil the fun. Furman and McConaughey confidently stay one setup ahead of their clients and the audience, injecting the film with enough mystery to instill the legal drama with the energy of modern noir. They make Haller out to be the Sam Spade of the legal system. He does his job well, with a confident smirk plastered to the side of his face.
But like Spade, Haller’s road isn’t an easy one, despite how he makes it look. While McConaughey plays him as a charming courtroom wiz, Romano’s script offers enough twists and danger to make his struggle compelling. As his case spirals out of control, Furman’s camera work zeros in on his confusion and fear, creating an often suspenseful look at one cocky lawyer. It might grow tired over time, but it’s more entertaining than the genre’s usual jury duty feel.
McConaughey’s confidence fits like a glove in the “The Lincoln Lawyer.” It’s the role he’s been waiting for, and coupled against Philippe’s easy-to-hate playboy and a great supporting cast, including William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei, Haller becomes one of the season’s most surprising characters, and “The Lincoln Lawyer” one of its best films.