The Lincoln Lawyer
In the last few years, Matthew McConaughey has given us Ghost of Girlfriends Past, Surfer, Dude, Fool’s Gold and Failure to Launch. Where in the world did The Lincoln Lawyer come from? He must be under new, and smarter management. Either way, I’ll take it.
Alright, alright, alright, alright. McConaughey plays the titular character Mick, a lawyer who’s smooth as shit, and works out of the back of his Lincoln, driven around by a chauffeur. He walks through courtrooms, offices, restaurants, wherever, like he owns the place, and McConaughey makes you believe he really does. He’s a defense attorney famous among local law enforcement (Los Angeles being the locale) for getting the most guilty of clients off one way or another. In a predictable turn of events, one case shakes all this up. Mick is hired to defend Louis Roulet, played by Ryan Phillippe. Louis may or may not have beat the crap out of prostitute in her home one night. His story checks out, hers doesn’t at first. But, with every decent or not decent crime thriller plot, things aren’t what they seem at first. And the point is really moot, as Louis is, well, his mother, extremely wealthy. Cash is a language Mick understands above all others, including most moral codes.
The second most shocking thing about McConaughey doing a decent film is the fact that none other than Marisa Tomei plays supporting actor to him. And while McConaughey is good, not great, but good, it’s the supporting cast that manage to pull of this relatively familiar story and still make it feel satisfying. Tomei plays Mick’s ex-wife and mother of their daughter, and she’s not a character you see often in movies. She’s allowed to act her age, she’s smart, she’s still very sexy. She’s not stupid, or brilliant, she just is. And McConaughey should count his blessings for her influence. Additionally, William H. Macy turns a fantastic performance in a smaller role.
Director Brad Furman deserves praise as well. His camera work plays a large part of why I spent the near two hour run time happy to keep sitting and wondering how this was all going to play out. Films that take place in Los Angeles have a tired method of exploiting the setting with shots we’ve seen again and again. Lincoln didn’t even have a helicopter shot over the Hollywood sign, nor a picture of girls sunning themselves in bikinis on a beach. But beyond that, the camera had a way of moving, a way of following Mick as fluidly as he negotiated crowded courtrooms, and underworld types.
Lincoln is based on a book, written by Michael Connelly, a crime journalist turned novelist. And while I’m not familiar with how faithful the script stay to the book (adapted for the screen by John Romano), there is an exactness with the plot that is easy to appreciate. Most pleasingly, the majority of the plot doesn’t even revolve around what the trailer suggests. It’s much more detailed than that, and much more fun to watch and keep guessing. The end, of which there are several (a la The Dark Knight) gets a bit sloppy as it spends a bit too much time wrapping everything up. I should be clear, this is not an exceptional film. But nonetheless, it’s everything is should be, and well, compared to anything else McConaughey has put out since A Time to Kill, it’s golden.