The Lincoln Lawyer
Say what you want about Matthew McConaughey and his penchant for making bad romantic comedies. He works well in this type of role. The obvious comparison here is A Time To Kill, but Mickey Haller, the smooth-talking defense lawyer he portrays in The Lincoln Lawyer, is far less naive, hardened by many years of the job.
His latest case involves a high-profile realtor (Ryan Philippe) accused of beating and raping a prostitute. To explain any more would give away a number of the film’s highly effective twists and turns.
Michael Connelly, the author of the novel from which the film was based, told us after our screening that the way Mickey Haller works from the back of his car (the make of which is signaled by the film’s title) was a major selling point for the book and was part of the pitch for this big screen adaptation from director Brad Furman. But while watching the film I never got the impression that it was a huge part of Haller’s identity. I merely saw him as someone, as he put it a number of times, “just trying to make it right” — both professionally and at home after years of caring about little else besides the verdicts of his cases.
This whole “lawyer in a car” angle does, however, make for the film’s most satisfying relationship. That’s the one between Haller and his chauffeur, Earl (Laurence Mason), whom the hard-drinking Haller hired when his license was suspended. That suspension ended three months ago, so needless to say they’ve developed a pretty strong friendship.
Haller is divorced from and has a daughter with the woman (Marisa Tomei) he occasionally still sleeps with. It’s a relationship we can’t really sink our teeth into, yet we get the impression that their professional differences are the only things keeping them apart. She works as a prosecutor who resents him for putting scum back on the streets.
Philippe brings little to the table as the spoon-fed defendant, but William H. Macy, Josh Lucas and Michael Pena are all impressive in their limited screen time. After a number of false finishes, the ending finally comes with what I’d consider the least impactful of their options. Even still, it does little to diminish what was overall a very effective legal thriller.