The Lincoln Lawyer (Movie Review)

March 25, 2011

The first few months of every year are most often a dead period at the cinema. All of the Oscar-baiting artistic ventures and critically-anticipated works have months since hit yet  still linger at the box-office  to give folks who wait to see the award winners after their wins a chance to catch them,  and all of the block-buster popcorn seat-fillers are a couple of months away. Usually new offerings in February and March are artistic-wannabes that weren’t quite up to snuff for award season or things that aimed to be summer crowd-pleasers but aren’t felt by their studios to  match up to their competition. So any good picture that sneaks in to the theaters at this time is  worth praising and suggesting to others seeking a re-entry into the multiplex to start off the film-going experience of the new year.

So, that being said, The Lincoln Lawyer is the first must-see movie of 2011. I’ve been eying this one since I heard about it a few months ago–it seemed to show promise of delivering the noir-crime goodness, and it does that pretty well. Based on the  novel by Michael Connelly, the screenplay manages to keep the feel of a page-turning pot-boiler. Matthew McConaughey portrays Connelly’s character Mickey Haller, a defense attorney whose office is the backseat of his Lincoln town car as he’s chauffeured around the city of LA to its different courtrooms defending his (often repeat-offender) list of clients including prostitutes, biker gangs, and drug dealers. McConaughey does a terrific job, and though he’s always been a likable figure on-screen, he’s rarely had roles that give him much to work with, which makes this performance easily his best to date. He plays Mickey with humor, wit, flaws, and depth. Mickey is no easy character to pin down, he’s a perfect noir character; McCaugney portrays him early on allowing you to admire him in his grime, seemingly cool even in his sleaze and moral grey abode, yet evolves him midway through to show touches of deep humanity, capable of seeking actual justice. The rest of the cast is great as well–Marrisa Tomei continues to be great in this second-wave of her career (reignited a couple of years ago with her turn in The Wrestler) as Mickey’s ex-wife, friend, mother of his child, and fellow lawyer from the other side as a prosecutor; Ryan Philipe as the smarmy, spoiled client Mickey has to defend; as well as everyone else, actors from Bones and Breaking Bad play bit roles to perfection amongst many others.

The cinematography compliments the overall atmosphere of the picture, capturing an LA filled with morally complex and questionable characters and elusive justice. The soundtrack is spot-on, the twists and turns continual yet plausible and realistic. A great thriller, a great mystery, and a picture that looks, sounds, and feels as it should–some scares, some jumps, plenty of surprises, a bit of heart and quite a few laughs. Since the source material for this film is the first in a series of books featuring the same protagonist, here’s hoping a few repeat visits with the same central cast. Hollywood usually doesn’t capture these types of adaptations too well, so in a case where they have, maybe we’ll see them go for it again.

Rating: 8/10

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One Response to “The Lincoln Lawyer (Movie Review)”

  1. […] else in the cast did a terrific job as well, especially Marisa Tomei. Read my full review of it here, not much as changed in my opinion of it since I saw it back in […]

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