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The Lincoln Lawyer movie poster

The Lincoln Lawyer: Movie Review

Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by: Brad Furman

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher, Bob Gunton, Bryan Cranston
Released by: Lionsgate

In Short: Matthew McConaughey shines in this legal thriller based on the best-selling Michael Connelly novel of the same name.


Tough Lawyer, Tough Case

Matthew McConaughey should always play a criminal defense lawyer. It’s been a long time since he has, way back in 1996 in “A Time to Kill” and 1997 in “Amistad.” Both those roles helped make him a movie star, and “The Lincoln Lawyer” reminds us that he’s really good at it.

He’s Mickey Haller, a rough-and-tumble Los Angeles defense attorney who runs his business out of the back of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Continental, juggling clients that include pot-growing biker gangs and con artists. The film, based on a Michael Connelly best-selling novel, meets up with Haller as he ups his client base, defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) against assault and attempted rape charges.

McConaughey strikes just the right balance of smooth and smarm as he and his crack investigator (William H. Macy) begin to form their defense. He’s believable as a smart guy who gets sucked into much more than he bargained for when he took on the client; it helps, too, that he is surrounded with other characters that are equally believable, played by talented actors across the board.

Ryan Phillippe in The Lincoln Lawyer Matthew McConaughey and John Leguizamo in The Lincoln Lawyer

There’s Oscar winner Marisa Tomei as his ex-wife, a prosecutor who still has a soft spot for him; John Leguizamo as the bail bondsman who gets him the unsavory rich client; Emmy winner Bryan Cranston as a veteran detective who suspects Haller of a crime he didn’t commit; and Frances Fisher as the rich mother who will stop at nothing to get her son exonerated. And Phillippe is properly creepy as that privileged son who insists on going to trial to prove his innocence.

Director Brad Furman keeps the pace moving, despite the fact that a good chunk of the action takes place in a courtroom, and gives us a nice ride to the exciting final sequences. Michael Connelly has a series of novels that feature Mickey Haller (including a new book, “The Fifth Witness,” that releases April 5); perhaps this is the beginning of a franchise film series for McConaughey, doing what he does best. Here’s hoping.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 07/19/13 RD)

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