Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Critics criticize. It's what they're paid to do. So when a film as good as The Lincoln Lawyer is released – it's time to scour the critique handbook. Hmm let's see... how about the classic good movie critique? “It's too smug and full of itself...” Oh wait it's not. Okay, how about “Oh it's not as good as its source material...” Oh wait it is. Alright, let's just say it doesn't add anything to the courtroom genre. Don't buy it. In a world where the Transformers movies make over 400 million (in America) sometimes you just have to sit and enjoy a good film; even if you're frowning at the injustice of it only making 13 million. Oh and apparently I missed the memo about courtroom becoming a genre, but I digress.

We're introduced, over the beats of throwback motown music, to Mickey Haller. He operates out of the back of his classic Lincoln Town Car, he looks suspiciously like Matt McConaughey, and he is a damn good defense attorney. Haller is a slick player: he has connections with everybody from a biker gang to a camera man, and isn't afraid to bribe a bailiff. In the midst of some of his typical defense work, Haller lands the case of a lifetime. A spoiled playboy, named Louis Roulet, played by an effectively menacing Ryan Philippe, has been accused of a beating a prostitute (with intent to kill) and he appears to be on his way to a life sentence or worse, the death penalty. Roulet initially, adamantly maintains his innocence. Despite his catchphrase “There's nothing scarier than an innocent client,” Haller takes the case. This is where the twists and turns begin. Haller begins to see parallels with an old client and discovers that Roulet is not as innocent as he seemed. Haller is trapped by attorney-client privileges and must maneuver through potentially deadly territory within the constraints of the law. The film maintains a brisk pace, and McConaughey is electric as the charming but increasingly troubled lawyer with a soft spot for the bottle. The rest of the cast is absolutely fantastic, with fine actor after fine actor showing up for the ride. Marisa Tomei shines as Haller's ex-wife, a prosecutor that he remains friends with, and the likes of William H. Macy, Josh Lucas and Bryan Cranston fill spot-roles.

The Lincoln Lawyer is the epitome of a thriller done right. It's exciting, engaging, has excellent pacing, and is filled with riveting performances. While it may have one too many fake endings, it ultimately comes to satisfactory, if not quite epic, conclusion. While 13 million is nothing to sneeze at for an opening weekend, this is one of those films I wish everyone saw instead of the other garbage plaguing theaters these days. And to the critics who say it gives nothing new to the genre, how about Matt McConaughey? I mean, who knew this guy had any talent? He's found his niche with Mickey Haller, and I hope that this is the beginning of a franchise.

Grade: A-

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