The Lincoln Lawyer – Review

I’m finding it hard to review The Lincoln Lawyer.  I thought it was an above average legal drama, but most of what I want to talk about should maybe be a surprise to the audience.  I’ll work around it.

The Lincoln Lawyer stars Matthew McConaughey as a Los Angeles-based lawyer who is chauffeured around town so he can work in the backseat.  He’s also kind of a street-level lawyer, working with biker gangs and bribing bailiffs.  Yet he’s not TOO sleazy and is even likeable.

His big case in this movie is about a rich kid (Ryan Phillipe) who claims innocence but seems to be hiding something.  So there’s a mystery/thriller element in addition to the drama.

McConaughey is convincing as the lawyer.  He plays a lot of laid-back, surfer guys, but this is different.  He’s going back to his drama experience, which is wider than people remember.  His scenes of working the legal system are fun, and his courtroom demeanor is sharp.  Unlike many of his previous roles, his shirt even stays on (most of the time).  Phillipe as the client is appropriately indignant/suspicious, but not a standout.  Marisa Tomei as the ex-wife/girlfriend is fine, but her function is mostly to make McConaughey look like a good guy.  And there are several good, but small, supporting roles.

The dialogue moves fast, and a lot of character names are thrown around.  It’s a bit hard to keep up with sometimes, but I managed.  I do wish that I’d been able to catch all the names the first time though–it would have made certain scenes make more sense as I was watching them.  The legal scenes are tense, as they should be in a good legal drama.  My big problem (and I won’t give anything away) is a conflict of interest that McConaughey had.  I thought there was an obvious way out of it, but it didn’t happen, and I have a strong feeling this was addressed in one of those rapid dialogue exchanges that I didn’t catch all of.  It resulted in a nagging feeling for the last portion of the movie.

One of the last things I thought as I was leaving the theater was that I would like to see this character again.  I don’t want a sequel, as in a continuation of this story, but I liked seeing this particular lawyer operate and would enjoy more of his cases.  Which seems to me like the best praise I can give.

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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