|The Lincoln Lawyer
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe
3 out of 5 Abiding Dudes? What's up with this Josh guy? I mean, it's Matthew McConaughey, whose best known for movies co-starring Kate Hudson and taking his shirt off. Yeah, he found a niche, but lately all he's been known for is eye candy for the ladies in rom-coms, Yeah, he had a funny bit part in Tropic Thunder, but so what? Really, 3 out of 5 Dudes?
Trust me, I'm confused too.
I had practically written off McConaughey as done, meaning he wasn't going to have a worthwhile role that didn't put him as the male lead in a forgetful romance movie. Then he goes and does something like The Lincoln Lawyer, and I wonder where the hell this guy has been for the past decade.
The premise is simple enough. Mick Haller (McConaughey) is a defense attorney that consults clients while riding around in his "office," the backseat of a Lincoln town car while Earl (Laurence Mason) drives. He goes from client to client, even sometimes being pulled over by a group of bikers that he seems to defend regularly. He's taken by surprised when a high-profile client, Loius Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), requests for his council by name, even when his family keeps a lawyer on retainer. But the money is good, so he takes the case.
While juggling his ex-wife Maggie (Marisa Tomei) and working with Frank (William H. Macy), a private detective, Mick learns there's more to this case than what's taken at face value. And of course, it brings the ultimate question for a defense lawyer; what do you do when you know the person you're defending is guilty?
The Lincoln Lawyer's plot really isn't surprising in how it unfolds. There are twists and the like, but it doesn't treat the audience like it's dumb; the surprises aren't out of the blue, and it gives plenty of clues to how things will go. Instead, the film works because of it's presentation of the plot and twists. Director Brad Furman knew how to handle his actors, even someone like Bryan Cranston. His role was small, but he used it to make a pretty good impact, much like you'd expect someone like Cranston to pull off with so little.
It actually works well as a courtroom drama too. The story knows its way around a crime scene and a courtroom, never throwing big hay-maker style surprises (like crime dramas on TV like to do). Instead, we get to see how things are set up (McConaughey's Mick Haller is a devious one), and the real treat is watching how his plans unfold.
McConaughey works well with everyone on the screen; tense moments with Phillipe, conflicted emotions with Tomei, confidence with his clients. And he pulls off some pretty cocky stunts with poise and confidence, making sleazy lawyer tactics look pretty damn good in a way only McConaughey could probably pull off. Then when things go terribly wrong, you see just how far he'll go to make things right, using the law and his connections to his benefit, to settle his own conscience.
If anything, they make Mick Haller too clever for his own good. He manhandles the court system for his own gain, and cons his clients out of more money (but they're criminals, so what's wrong there?). And just because he's smart, and knows he's smart, it doesn't mean it doesn't backfire.
To say I was taken off guard by how The Lincoln Lawyer turned out is an understatement. I wouldn't have even considered this one if it wasn't for the press screening, and I'm still in shock how much I liked it. If you're in the mood for a drama that doesn't have to surprise you with a sudden revelation or a hidden twist to make things come together, you really can't go wrong with this one.