The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) Review (R)

For a film that places as much emphasis on being ‘down wit’ it’ as it does on the actual business of the justice system, The Lincoln Lawyer  is not a bad flick. The film is urban gritty with a heavy emphasis on style from the slick cinematography to the lead character’s personal manner. Apparently, it’s in McConaughey’s contracts now to be ‘cool’ on film. I don’t have a problem with that even if it often seems like self parody. The  Los Angeles area is captured with a clear, crisp digital lens. The film looks great.

The film focuses on McConaughey’s cool breeze defense lawyer, Louis Roulet, whose worst fear is as his father told him; that one client that goes up the river that turns out to be innocent (so you KNOW that’s what the film will be about). Roulet juggles his various cases with seeing his daughter from time to time, Her mother (and his ex-wife) turns out to be  on the side of prosecution. I know, the writer is going by the numbers here. And of course, when he takes on his latest big case, he finds himself in the situation where he may be facing his greatest fear. It doesn’t sound like anything extraordinary and as far as courtroom thrillers go… It’s not. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any twists and turns or that I didn’t like it. I actually enjoyed this quite  a bit, even with it taking the predictable route quite often. Sometimes style… the actors making the characters likable… the pacing… the lead’s performance, etc, can elevate average material into something that’s worthwhile.

I thought they may have revealed a couple of things too early, but the film still had several suspenseful moments. it occasionally stoops to old cliches like someone stating that they have vital information, speaking in code by phone, only to be killed when they hang up, so as to have a mystery for the protagonist to solve. That movie goes ‘there’ often’, but again, it doesn’t hurt the film too much.

McConaughey is a better actor than most give him credit for. He is known for a certain persona, though, and here they play off of that. He might even play the part a little too cool. To be honest, it never feels like he’s in too bad of a spot. The film maybe could have used a little more angst, but I guess it was written the way it was (which isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong). Mahogany (little Wittertainment joke there) has a great cast surrounding him. Ryan Phillippe is a decent enough actor (maybe a little too serious), but he may be the weak link here. Marisa Tomei. William H. Macy, Michael Pena,  Bryan Cranston and even John Leguizamo help make up a fairly impressive supporting cast. They’re all familiar faces, somewhat commercial in some cases (I’m rhyming again), but they all give an earnest effort.

The most shocking thing for me is that this was distibuted by Lion’s Gate, the World’s Worst Movie Company. I can’t remember the last time I saw a good film from Lion”s Gate, if ever. Maybe my lowered expectations made me enjoy this one more than usual. One out of every 800 films isn’t a very good track record, though.

4 of 5

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