By MARK TURNER
Have you ever watched a movie thinking beforehand it would be a good movie only to discover that it was just so-so once it finished? A movie that just leaves you feeling a bit bland, as if had you not watched it you wouldn’t notice it but that you thought was entertaining enough anyway? Such is the case with THE LINCOLN LAWYER.
Based on the best seller by Michael Connelly it tells the tale of slick lawyer Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey), a stereotypical lawyer who will do most anything to get his client off be he guilty or not. Mick is also likely to take his client for as much as he can get while the getting is good. Not the most loveable character you’ll find in a movie.
Things get odd when Mick takes on a case for bail bondsmen/friend named Val Valenzuela (John Leguizamo). He has a client in need of an attorney, a young and wealthy guy named Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe) accused of attempting to rape and beat a young woman. Roulet claims innocence from the start and Mick is willing to take him at his word. Refusing money from his mother to differentiate the client from the witness base, Mick sets out to discover all he can about the case and all involved.
Using his best friend and investigator Frank Levin (William H. Macy), he sets out building an alibi for his client. But when he has Frank look into something different, Frank ends up dead and the most likely suspect in Mick’s eye is Roulet. The problem is being his attorney Roulet is protected by the lawyer/client privilege. And when ties to a case that didn’t set well with Mick years ago start to form, he begins to wonder just who this young man really is.
Along the way we meet an assortment of characters to round out the film. Marisa Tomei stars as Maggie McPherson, Mick’s ex-wife who works in the D.A.’s office. There are several policemen who don’t care for Mick’s way of doing things, especially helping criminals evade justice headed by Bryan Cranston. And then there’s Earl (Laurence Mason), Mick’s chauffer, the man who drives the Lincoln town car that connects to the movie’s title. Mick doesn’t use an office you see, he spends most of his time in his car.
The mystery involved doesn’t offer an incredibly difficult plot to follow nor puzzle to solve. Who did what to whom becomes pretty evident early on. The best part of the film deals with Mick’s trying to find a way to not break the law by turning in his client and at the same time finding a way to get him convicted of the crime.
The performances here are for the most part pretty standard. There is no break out performance to be seen but everyone does a fine job. The cinematography is well done with a few hand held shots that aren’t so obnoxious as to get in the way. The direction feels more by the book than anything. As I said, this movie offers a decent mystery but for the most part feels sort of bland. Still, when it comes to a rental its better than a number of movies out there and you just might enjoy it.
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