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Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

Mar. 18, 2011by: Chris Bumbray
100%

PLOT: A slick attorney, Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey), is hired to defend a rich Beverly Hills real estate developer (Ryan Phillippe) in a brutal assault case.

REVIEW : Now this is a real surprise. By now, Ive all but written off McConaughey as an actor to take seriously. Fifteen years ago, around the time he did A TIME TO KILL, he seemed like a really promising new talent, but years of awful rom-coms where all he had to do was grin and take his shirt off, all but ruined his credibility. Even the occasional sleeper like FRAILTY (a VERY underrated flick) wasnt enough to make up for garbage like FAILURE TO LAUNCH, GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST and FOOLS GOLD. But, just when it seemed like he was going to crash and burn, hes come along with THE LINCOLN LAWYER, in a role which seems tailor-made, and shows acting ability I assumed hed lost.


It helps that hes got some great source material to chew on, with this being an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly, who; despite being one of the bestselling authors in America, has so far gone mostly unexplored at the multiplex (although its possible BLOOD WORK- which remains one of Clint Eastwoods only truly bad films, might have scared producers away).

Mick Hallers a very colorful character, with him starting off as little more than a shrewd mouthpiece for scumbag clients. He carries himself like some kind of gangster, with him being chauffeured around in his Lincoln Town car by his chauffeur Earl (Laurence Mason), and doing dirty deals with bikers, petty criminals, paparazzi, and other disreputable characters.


Of course, seeing as how hes the hero, hes not without redeeming characteristics. Hes on good terms with his sexy ex-wife (Marisa Tomei, who only gets better looking the older she gets), and is a loving father to their daughter. He also has a nice-guy private investigator on his payroll, played by William H. Macy, whos given the unenviable task of rocking both a mullet and a mustache, but somehow manages to get away with both.

To be sure, this is a comeback role if ever there was one, and McConaughey bursts with a charisma here I havent seen him show since A TIME TO KILL (could it be that hes actually, gasp, trying?). He really gets to show off his chops about forty minutes in, once the plot really starts to cook, and the truth about his scumbag client, played by Phillippe is revealed. From there, THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a damn solid courtroom thriller, although it does peter out just a tad towards the end, with the plot getting a little too convoluted for its own good.

The only problem with this being McConaugheys show all the way, is that it leaves the rest of the top-notch supporting cast with little to do. Tomei has to make due with the bland love interest role, where all she needs to do is look pretty, and comfort McConaughey when hes down. Josh Lucas; once touted as the next Paul Newman, gets a nothing role as perhaps the dumbest screen prosecutor in history (with him making a stunningly dumb move while cross examining Francis Fishers character that me wince). And Bryan Cranston, one of the best actors in the biz, as shown by the unbelievably good BREAKING BAD, gets a two-dimensional role, with him playing bad cop to Michael Pars (yes, THAT Michael Par) good cop.


The only supporting cast member that really gets to make an impression is Macy, whos great as the street-wise PI, with him being the conscience in McConaugheys operation. As for Phillippe, I dont want to give too much away about his role, but I thought he was a bit bland, as a really sharp antagonist that could go mano-a-mano with McConaughey was needed (like Edward Norton opposite Richard Gere in the great PRIMAL FEAR).

Nevertheless, THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a really tight courtroom thriller that reminded me how much I missed that genre, with relatively few offerings coming out since FRACTURE a few years ago. This is a fun, smart, adult blockbuster, and well worth a watch, even if you tend to be wary of anything starring McConaughey. He delivers here, big time.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:04PM on 03/19/2011
the acting by Matthew McConaughey was good but the court room dialogue/writing was absolutely atrocious, particularly the Francis Fisher cross examination you mentioned - i mean honestly, even if Josh Lucas got exactly the answers he wanted, that line of questioning was doing nothing for his case, it was so hacked together specifically to make him look like an idiot. I pretty much lost respect for the film after that.
the acting by Matthew McConaughey was good but the court room dialogue/writing was absolutely atrocious, particularly the Francis Fisher cross examination you mentioned - i mean honestly, even if Josh Lucas got exactly the answers he wanted, that line of questioning was doing nothing for his case, it was so hacked together specifically to make him look like an idiot. I pretty much lost respect for the film after that.
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6:33PM on 03/18/2011
i might see this.

on another note, anyone else found his uneven skiglass tan at the oscars amusing:
[link]
i might see this.

on another note, anyone else found his uneven skiglass tan at the oscars amusing:
[link]
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5:54PM on 03/18/2011
I thought he was pretty good alongside Al Pacino in Two for the Money.
I thought he was pretty good alongside Al Pacino in Two for the Money.
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2:22PM on 03/18/2011
Good to hear this could be a comeback. I never really lost faith in McConaughey's ability, even if I did with his career choices. Occasionally inspired roles like "13 Conversations About One Thing" and "Tropic Thunder" helped. And the man has charisma to spare which I attribute to why his career hadn't exactly crashed and burned even with lackluster movies.
Good to hear this could be a comeback. I never really lost faith in McConaughey's ability, even if I did with his career choices. Occasionally inspired roles like "13 Conversations About One Thing" and "Tropic Thunder" helped. And the man has charisma to spare which I attribute to why his career hadn't exactly crashed and burned even with lackluster movies.
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12:17PM on 03/18/2011
I was interested in this movie even when most of my friends were saying, "Dude, McConaughey sucks." From the reviews it's been getting, looks like I was right. Looking forward to seeing it.
I was interested in this movie even when most of my friends were saying, "Dude, McConaughey sucks." From the reviews it's been getting, looks like I was right. Looking forward to seeing it.
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11:35AM on 03/18/2011
So glad to hear that the movie is good, seeing as michael connelly is far and away my favorite author. Maybe if we're lucky this will pave the way for a harry bosch movie.
So glad to hear that the movie is good, seeing as michael connelly is far and away my favorite author. Maybe if we're lucky this will pave the way for a harry bosch movie.
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