Dir. Brad Furman. USA. 2011.

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Legal thrillers don’t come our way very often-even from Hollywood so ‘The Lincoln lawyer’ is quite a welcome change from the hard-assed actioners, animated comedies and romantic tripe that Hollywood usually throws our way. Directed by Brad Furman with a Screenplay by John Romano, based on the novel by Michael Connelly, this is a film that presses all the right buttons, is earnest about it’s ambitions and is incorrigibly driven by it’s dissipated, ageing  yet charismatic star Mathew McConaughey.

Mickey Haller(Mathew McConaughey) is a slick and savvy lawyer who manages to speed-up even the most dog-eared cases. His clientele includes junky bikers, sweet talking whores and repeat offenders until a friendly bail bondsman(John Leguizamo) sends a bigger fish his way- Louis Roulet(Ryan Phillipe), a Beverly hills blueblood accused of rape, battery and attempted murder of a prostitute. Louis cries innocent and Haller almost believes him until his close buddy, private investigator Frank Levin(William H Macy) uncovers some intriguing facts. Frank  is quickly bumped off and now Haller, has to defend the indefensible. How he manoeuvres  through the legalese and comes out smelling of roses forms the most intriguing part of the film. The set-up is long drawn and the exposition quite flimsy. But the development appears solid enough and gives the film it’s most interesting moments.

There are far too many characters in the film and most of them have little to contribute to the eventual climax. Haller’s disrupted family life with ex-wife Maggie(Marisa Tomei) and daughter, have little importance in the scheme of things. They also have very little to do other than provide a steady support for Haller’s character to fall back on. Haller’s egotism, skill and smooth talk are tools that help him manipulate the justice system for his clients gain. The narrative
is typically old fashioned in that a lot of film stock is used up to establish Haller’s smarmy credentials. The film has interesting moments and fleshy appeal but the narrative is a bit too long in the teeth as well. The dialogues don’t really flow , the direction is a bit too indulgent and the excessive run time is a huge stretch.
McConaughey struts his stuff like a pro and his charm continues to entrance despite the visible dissipation in his countenance!

Rating:   *  *  *

Johnson Thomas

Also see Howard Schumann's review of The Lincoln Lawyer

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