Dir. Brad Furman. USA. 2011.

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If you have trouble keeping track of all the characters in Brad Furman's courtroom drama, The Lincoln Lawyer, you probably have plenty of company. One character you cannot miss, however, is Mick Haller, the slick, charming defense attorney skillfully played by Matthew McConaughey in a performance that is almost certain to produce some sequels. Mick's office is the back seat of a Lincoln Continental, chauffeured by Laurence Mason, which saves money on rent and allows him to wheel and deal away from public scrutiny.  

Divorced from the very attractive Maggie McPherson (Marissa Tomei), another attorney, Mick knows his way around courtrooms and has connections with police, bail bondsmen, and even the Hell's Angels, who are portrayed as being so gentle they could be mistaken for a church social group if they didn't have bikes and facial hair. Mick pays them for favors rendered and they never seem to haggle over price. What a great bunch of guys, ready to beat someone up for a buck whenever Mick comes-a-calling. Though I wouldn't call Mick unscrupulous, he's not troubled by too many ethical concerns and defends all sorts of lowlifes including murderers, drug dealers, and prostitutes, if the price is right.

In this case, however, his primary client is a wealthy socialite named Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), usually seen with his mother (Frances Fisher). Because Roulet is so fit and proper, we tend to believe him when he insists that he is innocent of the crime of brutally beating a prostitute. Soon, however, Louis is caught in a lie and the case becomes complicated when evidence of Roulet's past begins to surface. Though Mick begins to have considerable doubt about his client's veracity, he is committed to defend him. His chief investigator is Frank Levin played by William H. Macy, looking very uncharacteristic with long hair and a moustache and Levin will play a key role in the unraveling of the case.  

Many different characters surface including Jesus Martinez (Michael Pena), a man serving time in prison for the murder of another prostitute and who Mick is beginning to think was wrongfully convicted, and Val Valenzuela, a sleazy bail bondsman played by John Leguizamo. Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly and a screenplay by John Romano, The Lincoln Lawyer is an entertaining film that avoids gruesome over-the-top violence, chase scenes, and all the other accoutrements of what passes these days for entertainment, and Furman's sure hand keeps us on edge with many plot twists and turns. While, on the surface, The Lincoln Lawyer is a standard crime drama that telegraphs its punches, Mick's personality is so compelling that it takes the film to a different level and renders over-analysis meaningless. So grab some pop corn and enjoy one of those entertainments that are such great fun at the time but that we just might forget the next day.


Howard Schumann

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