The Lincoln Lawyer

It’s not often, as a movie critic, that I go into a movie and not know SOMEthing about it.  I will usually see a trailer or TV commercial or, at the very least, read a tiny summary of the plot.  This was not the case with “The Lincoln Lawyer”.  I had not seen any type of advertisement for it and read nothing about it at all.  All I knew was that it was based on a novel by Michael Connelly and that Matthew McConaughey was in it playing a lawyer who drives a Lincoln.

It turns out, that last part was not even correct.  Matthew plays Mick Haller a defense lawyer who rides in the back of his Lincoln, the license plate of the car reads, “NTGUILTY”.  He is driven around by his faithful driver, Earl (Laurence Mason).  Haller is known for getting “real scum” back on the streets.  “How do you live with yourself?” one detective asks him.  Haller takes on a high profile client, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe, who gives his best performance to date).  He comes from a very rich family and is accused of brutally beating a woman.  Roulet claims his innocence to the point where he is drawn to tears in anguish that this has happened to him.  The questions then become: Is Roulet guilty or not? Can Haller get him off whether he is or not?


There is a whole lot more to this movie; but, to say any more about the plot would be a huge spoiler.  I still have not seen any commercials for this movie, so maybe they give away key plot points.  That would be a shame because the surprises and twists to this movie are what make it so interesting.  Often, in courtroom dramas, we can see everything that is coming, including all the “twists”.  Not so this time.  Using a cliché:  It will keep you guessing to the end.

A lot of credit must go to the director, Brad Furman.  This is only Brad’s second feature length movie.  He showed a lot of chops with his first movie, “The Take” and he took his time choosing his second project.  The movie is very well balanced.  It showcases a lot of talent, which could easily get lost in a movie like this, but Furman makes sure everything falls neatly into place.

Speaking of the talent, the movie features a terrific supporting cast.  Marisa Tomei plays Haller’s ex-wife, who also works for the DA’s office.  John Leguizamo plays Val Valenzuela, a less than reputable bails bondsman.  Michael Peña plays an old client of Mick’s.  Peña recently talked about his role with the Examiner in Miami, and this one looks to be even more memorable than his recent role in “Battle: Los Angeles”.  Bryan Cranston continues to show what a diverse actor he can be with his role as Detective Lankford.  Finally, a scruffy looking William H. Macy plays Haller’s investigator, Frank Levin.  Macy, once again, leaves his mark in this movie.  As far as McConaughey, he delivers exactly what you would expect him to, and maybe even goes a little further.

We are left to wonder what to make of this movie from the start.  The movie moves at its own pace, whether you will like it or not will depend on what kind of moviegoer you are.  Some will find it comforting, while others may get a little frustrated with it. The closest movie to compare”Lincoln Lawyer” with would be “…And Justice for All” which starred Al Pacino in 1979.  For those who had not seen that movie, I would recommend you rent it if you are a court room drama lover.  In the meantime, “The Lincoln Lawyer” should keep you satisfied.