It’s true, The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t breaking any new ground in the legal thriller genre. The plot itself is less mystery and more character so those expecting some twist might be disappointed. That being said, as somebody who has never been enamored with Matthew McConaughey, here he’s near pitch perfect for the part balancing cockiness with humility and passion.
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Mystery
Lionsgate | R – 118 min. – $39.99 | July 12, 2011
Directed by: Brad Furman
Writer(s): Michael Connelly (novel); John Romano (screenplay)
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Bryan Cranston
Theatrical Release Date: March 18, 2011
Features: 3 Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 44.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
Synopsis: Mickey Haller (MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY) is L.A.’s top criminal defense lawyer – a fast-living, freewheeling pro who does business out of the back seat of his classic Lincoln Town Car. He knows all the ins and outs of the legal system and how to exploit them to his clients’ advantage. But after agreeing to defend a wealthy young man (RYAN PHILLIPPE) accused of a brutal assault and rape, Mickey suddenly finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of violence, vengeance and deception that threatens to not only end his career, but also his life.
The Lincoln Lawyer is based on a novel by Michael Connelly, author of a variety of novels most notably featuring L.A.P.D. detective Harry Bosch as well as other novels with the lead character here, Mickey Haller. I haven’t read “The Lincoln Lawyer” novel so I can’t speak to how close the film sticks to it, but I must say thanks to an interesting character and fine performance by its lead, the movie itself hits all the right notes.
Matthew McConaughey has never really been a favorite of mine as he generally plays the same kind of characters: laid back, cocky, ladies’ man that is good at what he does. Of course, admittedly his Mickey Haller character isn’t too far off from that description but this time it’s a fun performance to behold as you get to see him change on-screen from the beginning as he takes on a wealthy client to the end when his perception changes.
** Major Spoiler Warnings **
In regards to the supporting cast, nothing really goes wrong there either. Marisa Tomei gets the thankless job of playing the ex-wife who still has it for Haller, though doesn’t like his career of putting criminals back on the street while she works to incarcerate them. Ryan Phillippe in the meantime plays Haller’s client and while I have read plenty of complaints about his performance, and yes it could’ve been more memorable, I didn’t have a problem with it. Up to when we find out the truth (probably about 2/3’s the way through), you don’t know what his deal is; after that point it becomes a cat-and-mouse game and Haller discovering his own mistakes in the past (involving Michael Pena in a small but pivotal role).
The film also features a fine, albeit forgettable performance as well. First and foremost you’ve got William H. Macy plays Haller’s private investigator who is of course important to the plot yet still for somebody of Macy’s caliber, it’s nothing noteworthy. I do understand, however, why he was cast since he does bring an immediate presence and likeability to the character which is important later on. On a similar note, Josh Lucas also makes an appearance as an honest D.A. in over his head when going against Haller. It’s yet another thankless part but effectively played by Lucas.
In regards to the story, adapted by screenwriter John Romano (creator of a couple failed legal shows), isn’t exactly mysterious and in many ways is downright predictable, although to be fair, Romano doesn’t stretch out the mystery aspect as the true perpetrator is revealed about half way through. In fact, the movie is less a legal thriller, though there is a fun legal twist near the end isn’t the purpose of the film and is more of a character drama than anything else focused on Haller. Some might find this aspect tedious and/or boring but for myself, and thanks to a great performance by McConaughey, it makes the film all the more enjoyable.
** End Spoilers **
The Lincoln Lawyer was directed with a ‘70s vibe, from both the visuals and soundtrack, by Brad Furman. He might not be a “name” per se, and this is his biggest film, but you can see why he was hired thanks to crime drama, and feature film debut, entitled The Take starring John Leguizamo (who also has a small role here), Tyrese Gibson and Rosie Perez. From what I’ve read, it’s a great little film that didn’t get much attention.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Making the Case: Creating The Lincoln Lawyer (13:40; HD) – This is a run-of-the-mill featurette covering how the novel became a movie and how it was adapted to casting and directing. For what it is, it’s not too bad of a featurette as you get a background on where the novel came from and his thoughts on adapting it into a feature film.
Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road (10:16; HD) featurette follows the author, on his way to the movie premiere, as he gives us a tour of L.A. and the locations that inspired “The Lincoln Lawyer” novel.
One on One with McConaughey and Connelly (5:28; HD) is an interesting, though too short, interview between the actor and novelist on the set of The Lincoln Lawyer as they ask each other questions.
Deleted Scenes (4:07; HD) – There are four scenes excised from the film no doubt for pacing issues. There’s nothing here that great and wouldn’t be missed in the final cut, though the one between Haller and his daughter – and was seen in the trailers – was cute.
Also included in the set is a standard def, barebones DVD Copy and a Digital Copy download code slip which you can use to watch on your portable device.
Previews – Conan the Barbarian, Warrior, The Next Three Days and The Conspirator
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Lincoln Lawyer litigates its way onto Blu-ray high-def in 1080p resolution and its original 2.35 aspect ratio. Not surprisingly, the picture here is great showing off the 1970s-inspired motif with rustic coloring – as well as some toned down neon’s during the club flashback scenes – and a bit of saturation (mainly during the opening credits). The detail level throughout is also excellent. Having seen this in the theaters, I can tell you it is pretty damn close.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
Like other Lionsgate releases, this one too boasts a strong 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which shows off both clear dialogue as well as the great soundtrack. The lossless track might not be up to par with some of the greats on Blu-ray but it does give you that theater experience.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
It’s true, The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t breaking any new ground in the legal thriller genre. The plot itself is less mystery and more character so those expecting some twist might be disappointed. That being said, as somebody who has never been enamored with Matthew McConaughey, here he’s near pitch perfect for the part balancing cockiness with humility and passion; it’s not going to be a performance I’ll remember by year’s end but it is one that makes the movie a worthwhile viewing.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out more screen grabs on page 2.