Legal thrillers used to be common in a yearly film calendar, but nowadays they’re in short supply. Lincoln Lawyer looks like just another run of the mill legal thriller, but with a superb cast and exciting script, it’s much more.
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a successful lawyer, who runs most of his business from his Lincoln car. He gets a new defendant named Louis (Ryan Phillippe), who’s accused of rape and assault. Haller has reservations about Louis’s innocence, but later finds that the case is much more complex and serious than he had previously thought. Haller gets mixed up in some dangerous altercations and soon finds that the people nearest to him are in as much danger as he is.
My favourite element of legal thrillers is the “who did it” question. Within the first half hour Lincoln Lawyer does away with that question and the film takes on a far deeper set of issues, which I can’t really talk about because they’d spoil the film for you. Lincoln Lawyer presents itself with a rather common set up, but the film’s strength is how it executes the key plot strands. One scene includes a character finding out that someones close to him has died, and then that character must share a room with the killer in the next scene. Until you see the film you won’t understand the strong emotions of anger and fury that you derive from such an awkward scene. Also the finale and the build up to the finale is really exciting and very satisfying.
Matthew McConaughey is the most enjoyable part of the whole film and this enjoyment comes from seeing him back in film role that requires him to act. McConaughey has been in some rather dull and also some downright awful romantic comedies over the past few years. In Lincoln Lawyer he deliver a performance that is much more than just flashy and confident. His character is much smarter than he pretends to the audience. McConaughey also has some quality chemistry with co-stars Marisa Tomei and William H Macy.
Lincoln Lawyer doesn’t try to revolutionise the genre, but it does set a new standard for that genre. The key difference is being that it doesn’t try anything glaringly new, but it delivers the essential elements with a real conviction. Also if you don’t have a wide grin on your face when the final credits roll, I’d be surprised.