The Lincoln Lawyer
dir Brad Furman
scr John Romano
prd Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Scott Steindorff, Richard S Wright
with Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H Macy, Marisa Tomei, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher, Michael Peña, Laurence Mason, Bob Gunton, Bryan Cranston, Michael Pare
release US/UK 18.Mar.11
11/US Lionsgate 1h59
The Lincoln Lawyer
And justice for all: McConaughey and Phillippe

macy tomei lucas
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Lincoln Lawyer Enjoyably twisty but too shallow to be fully satisfying, this legal thriller lopes along at a pleasing pace through its overlong running time. But it's watchable mainly because we know there will be at least one big twist in the tale.

Mick (McConaughey) runs his successful L.A. law practice from his vintage Lincoln. He has a daughter with his public-prosecutor ex Maggie (Tomei) and works closely with his private-eye pal Frank (Macy). His new case involves the wealthy Louis (Phillippe), who claims he didn't violently assault a prostitute. But the more Mick and Frank look into things, the fishier they get. And Mick will need to do some unorthodox things to win the case against the tenacious D.A. (Lucas) and achieve real justice.

Like a TV show, Furman directs using close-up camerawork and quick-patter dialog. The result feels complicated, even though we don't have much trouble following it, which means that the glossed-over plot holes niggle away at us right up to the rushed final act. Even so, along the way we can relax and enjoy the story's convolutions as well as the somewhat underdeveloped relationships.

McConaughey barely breaks a sweat in the role, although with his craggy face he's starting to look like Clint Eastwood. He ricochets effectively between the supporting actors, with interaction that's unambiguous in its resentment, loyalty or simmering sexual tension, as required. The cast is uniformly fine, although their characters barely register. Only Phillippe stirs interest as a spoiled rich guy who from the start clearly has some dark shadows.

Meanwhile, Furman creates a 1970s vibe to go along with the car: groovy music, sassy side roles, silky editing and feathered blond hair (that would be Macy) add to this, although it's never really carried through. And the one proper Blaxpoiltation-style character (Mason as Mick's driver) never quite comes to life. Actually, not much pays off properly. The eponymous car barely figures into the story (and he has a real office anyway). But with such a rambling, entertaining plot, the film is at least forgettable fun, like a trashy novel you read on a flight then leave behind on the seat when plane lands.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 15.Mar.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall