Film: The Lincoln Lawyer
Cast includes: Matthew McConaughey (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), Marisa Tomei (Cyrus), Ryan Phillippe (Flags of Our Fathers), William H. Macy (Fargo), Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind), Frances Fisher (Unforgiven)
Director: Brad Furman (The Take)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense Thriller (2011) Based on a novel by Michael Connelly
In brief: Before the first line of dialog, we know that Mick Haller oozes coolness. The tone is set by a great opening song plus slick footage of Mick in his office… his chauffeur-driven Lincoln with the “NTGUILTY” license plate. As soon as he walks into the courthouse, Val’s “got something big.” It’s Louis Roulet, a Maserati-driving, rich mama’s boy, whose been accused of attempted murder… “caught him in her home with blood all over him.” Mick clears his jammed schedule to meet Louis in jail. Cecil Dobbs, the family attorney wouldn’t have hired Mick, but Louis ask for him by name. Mick’s got a reputation for getting his clients off, even if Dobbs has never heard of him.
“No negotiations. No plea-bargaining. No nothing. I’m innocent,” Louis tells Mick when they meet at Louis’s fancy office. Louis tells Mick the whole story. “Are you sure there isn’t anything you’re not telling me?” Mick has been doing this long enough to know when a client’s not telling him everything. Something’s not right. There’d be no reason for Louis to hold back. After all, as Louis’s lawyer, Mick has to defend Louis… no matter what he learns. “What am I missing here?” Mick wonders. When the pieces start coming together, this case turns sour. As cool as Mick is on the job, we get a very different picture of him when things turn ugly. Mick is vulnerable and he’s gotten himself into something evil. On the other hand, Mick is used to dealing with low-life characters. He’s learned a thing or two along the way.
It’s my opinion that they don’t make enough good mystery/suspense movies these days. Not everyone loves them… you have to be willing to suspend disbelief and overlook some flaws. But the flaws in The Lincoln Lawyer are well within the acceptable range for the genre. This one works… engaging plot, great cast, nicely produced and terrific music. Considering all the moviegoers who’ve already read the Michael Connelly bestselling novel and know the story, the filmmakers needed to give us more than just a surprise ending. They needed to make it a fun ride… and they’ve done that. No explosions. No car chases. No special effects. Just good old-fashioned story telling… it sounds so simple, but only a few get it right.
4 popped kernels
If you wish there were more good mystery/suspense thrillers, put this one on your list
Primary Audience: Young adults & grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment