Matthew McConaughey could play a lawyer for the rest of his career and I’d never tire of watching him do it. His most recent film, The Lincoln Lawyer, marks the third time McConaughey has fought for justice as a defense attorney – his most memorable stint as a DA is A Time to Kill, the 1996 legal thriller that put him on the map. However, this time he’s not a young, up-and-coming lawyer trying to prove himself, but rather a street smart, hotshot criminal defense attorney named Mickey Haller.
Haller is a man who knows the ins and outs of the judicial system and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who thinks he’s as bad as the criminals he represents. Constantly on the move through the streets of Los Angeles while working from the back of his Lincoln sedan – so he can travel between the many courtrooms and locations his job requires with as little downtime as possible – Haller has his finger on the pulse of the city. He’s got a slight bit of arrogance to him; however, his interactions with others and charismatic delivery of everything that comes out of his mouth proves that he’s more suave than he is cocky. And his charm isn’t limited to those in the film, as it quickly passes off onto the audience making him instantly likable and a character we want to see come out on top.
Things are going great for Haller when we first meet him and they seem to only be getting better. The biggest case of his career just fell into his lap and he isn’t about to let it get away. His prospective client is Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a high-profile Beverly Hills realtor who has been accused of rape and attempted murder. After agreeing to take on the case Haller soon finds that it didn’t fall into his lap by coincidence, and that those responsible for putting it there want to see him squirm while trying to escape what quickly becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse.
The Lincoln Lawyer is based off the best selling novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. While the book no doubt holds a great deal more information, this adaptation by writer John Romano packs a wallop. It’s often argued that the book is always better than the film, and to that I believe McConaughey says it best in one of the extras, “There‘s a difference between a 500 page novel and a 120 page script. There’s certain beautiful nuggets in a book that you aren’t going to get in a film, and you shouldn’t. That’s why it’s a film.” Whatever was left out may have been interesting, but Romano definitely took the best pieces of the story and created a taught legal thriller.
The film is directed by Brad Furman, a man who has only one independent release to his name and yet he knocks it out of the park. Watching Haller go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows is engrossing with the way Furman captures it all on film. He sets a great pace for a genre that can easily falter if not done properly, and sets the mood perfectly heading into the final act.
The acting is great all around with McConaughey leading the pack. His fantastic work as Haller only reiterates my statements above. He’s perfect for the part and has no trouble carrying the bulk of the film on his shoulders and making it look easy. Hopefully this won’t be the last book about the character that’s adapted for the silver screen, even though these are rarely the type of films that get made into franchises.
The supporting cast only make the film that much easier to get caught up in. Phillippe brings his A-game as the accused Roulet, while Marisa Tomei is completely disarming as Haller’s ex-wife Maggie, who helps bring to light a different, softer side in him. William H. Macy is also quite the scene stealer with his portrayal of Haller’s private investigator Frank Levin. Josh Lucas plays prosecuting attorney Ted Minton perfectly against McConaughey’s Haller, while Frances Fisher adds a perfect dose of rich snobbery as Roulet’s mother.
It’s unfortunate that legal thrillers aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be. When done right their stories are as compelling as they come, filled with mystery and intrigue and in most cases a David vs. Goliath scenario that you just can’t beat. The Lincoln Lawyer has all of those traits and proves that the genre is far from dead. Now how about finding McConaughey another case to work on?
The video is presented in 1080p HD 16.9 2.35 and it looks great. The scenery and wide shots of Los Angeles look great, both in the day and at night, while the standard courtroom and indoor scenes are vibrant and sharp. The audio, presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sounds great as well. Everything comes out loud and clear from the music to the dialogue with no nagging complaints to be had.
The special features are solid for The Lincoln Lawyer and fans of both the film and Connelly will likely be happy. While a commentary for the film itself would have been nice, there’s still enough information to be found to satisfy most.
Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road is a 10 minute feature that sees us follow Connelly around Los Angeles as he waits for the premiere of The Lincoln Lawyer. He takes the viewer all around the city, while telling stories and showing off inspirational sites that helped inspire the novel. It’s quick, fun and informative.
Making the Case: Creating the Lincoln Lawyer comes in at just under 14 minutes and we hear from the cast and crew (as well as from Connelly once again) and get their thoughts on the film, the characters and the making of the movie itself.
One on One with Matthew McConaughey and Michael Connelly is a short conversation between star and scribe on the set of The Lincoln Lawyer.
Deleted Scenes I’m sure it wasn’t tearing people up inside, as it happens all the time, but here you’ll find the scene from the trailers where Haller is talking with his daughter in the back of his sedan. In fact, most of the four deleted scenes revolve around McConaughey’s relationship with his daughter which luckily were cut. While they may have worked out in the book, they would have only slowed down the pacing of the film. Besides, the film already perfectly captures how much Haller cares for his daughter without the need to cram it down the viewers throat.
The Lincoln Lawyer is a film that definitely should be seen. After a healthy box office performance, it should be a decent hit on home video before it winds up on TNT in between programming blocks of Law & Order. McConaughey has kick-started the genre that helped make him a household name and hopefully more legal thrillers will follow because of it.
Lionsgate presents The Lincoln Lawyer. Directed by: Brad Furman. Written by: John Romano. Based on the Novel by: Michael Connelly. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher. Running time: 119 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: July 12, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: crime, john leguizamo, Josh Lucas, Marisa Tomei, matthew mcconaughey, Ryan Phillippe, The Lincoln Lawyer, William H. Macy