If there’s one film in 2011 that’s going to get you interested in law by sensationalizing courtroom situations, this is going to be it.
Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a fast-talking, heavy-drinking defense attorney who enforces his badass attitude by straying mildly from the law while being chauffeured around in a Lincoln by a guy named Earl (Laurence Mason). For an easy paycheck, he takes up the case of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a young man from a wealthy real estate family who stands accused of rape and attempted murder. Roulet seems innocent enough, but evidence suggesting the opposite begins to emerge. Haller walks a tightrope between his instincts, legal obligations and concern for the lives of his family and friends.
When an actor’s track record includes such gems as Fool’s Gold, Failure to Launch and The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, avoiding anything he’s involved with ought to be a good decision. But, just as Ryan Reynolds somehow made up for his shameful romcom past in Buried, McConaughey redeems himself with a stellar performance.
Though it drags on for a little under two hours, there’s really nothing too different about The Lincoln Lawyer from, say, an episode of The Practice. The concept of a flawed man using minor “bad” to fight for “good” is something we can all dig, but as far as legal film plots go, it’s a far cry from the likes of Primal Fear (and Phillippe can’t hold a candle to Edward Norton). Aesthetically, a bit of half-hearted shaky-cam really doesn’t add anything. The Lincoln Lawyer manages to create some suspense and interest in its conclusion but it’s really McConaughey walking the walk and talking the talk that makes it watchable. It’s enough to make you want to swagger up to a limousine driver and address him as “Earl,” regardless of his actual name.