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The Lincoln Lawyer

a film by Brad Furman

Perhaps Brad Furman's The Lincoln Lawyer has some rather large gaps of logic in its story and some plot holes big enough to drive star Matthew McConaughey's ego through, but despite these flaws, this movie about a cocksure L.A. Lawyer who runs into the most dangerous case of his career, is a taut thriller through and through. And as for that leading man with the opposable ego (at least in his movies), McConaughey, after years in rom-com purgatory (being the charming but quite typical leading man to every Kate, Sarah and J-Lo around), is once more back in top form as the aforementioned cocksure L.A. Lawyer in over his head but with more than a few tricks up his designer sleeves.

Starring an indie-boom ensemble that includes Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, Michael Pena, John Leguizamo and William H. Macy, The Lincoln Lawyer is still McConaughey's picture to carry - and carry it he does. Playing a rather sleazy (but quite successful) defense attorney who does business out of the back of his chauffer-driven Lincoln Town Car (hence the movie's title), McConaughey's Mick Haller, the lawyer to biker gangs and drug pushers, is handed the most lucrative case of his career in the form of Ryan Phillippe's spoiled brat trust fund kid being tried for an assault and rape he claims to have not committed. This of course, is when everything goes drastically wrong.

There are obvious plot twists and turns that even the most novice of moviegoers would recognize the proverbial mile away, but none of this takes away from the intensity that builds around Haller and his case as he falls deeper and deeper into a plot so convoluted that it is well worthy of neo-noir status. Shot and scored with a sweaty kind of atmosphere that adds to the dread felt by Haller, director Furman, whose only previous feature work was the apparently forgettable 2007 film The Take (not only have I not seen it, I don't even remember it being released), has created a work of concentrated power - even with its periodic flaws. Perhaps the finale too is a bit contrived, but McConaughey (along with a strong performance from the always reliable Macy) keeps the film going until the bitter (or should I say jaded) end. [03/26/11]

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