Film Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer is an enjoyable if not gripping legal thriller, overall. What appears at first to be a straightforward courtroom drama transforms into a rather bizarre crime case.

Mick Haller is a top defense lawyer who does most of his work out of the back of his Lincoln car. Haller’s services are requested by a wealthy young client, who strongly protests his innocence. As Haller takes on the case, he discovers that it is more complicated and dangerous than it initially seemed…

The Lincoln Lawyer is entertaining, but not without its flaws. The pacing in the film is uneven. There is too much build up before the more critical scenes commence. This leaves the significant sequences feeling rushed; it takes too long to this point. Moreover, the conclusion of the film is not as climactic as it should be, especially with the prolonged build up.

The case that is presented to Haller is really quite intriguing. It seems rather straightforward to begin with, but it quickly becomes clear that there is more than meets the eye. Rather than plain courtroom drama, The Lincoln Lawyer combines action and violence, making Brad Furman’s film more of a crime thriller. This works reasonably well, however the film would have functioned with just as much suspense, perhaps more so, if the action was kept in the confines of the courtroom.

The Lincoln Lawyer is very much a one-man show. That is not to say that Matthew McConaughey offers a particularly powerful performance. Rather, the character Haller dominates the entire film, leaving little room for the auxiliary characters. These side characters drift in and out of the film, with little time or exertion spent on developing them. It is a shame, as the movie could have been stronger if the supporting players had been given meatier roles.

Matthew McConaughey is adequate as Haller. It is refreshing to see McConaughey in something other than a romantic comedy. But while the actor exudes the charisma of the character, his mark is not so indelible in the more dramatic sequences. Ryan Phillippe is convincing as client Louis Roulet, offering a more commanding performance than the lead. Marisa Tomei, Willaim H. Macy and John Leguizamo are all good, but underused in their meagre roles.

Production values are decent, especially Jeff McEvoy’s editing. Music is also a plus; the film uses a mixture of classic and contemporary urban tunes. The Lincoln Lawyer is slick and entertaining, but lacks the execution to elevate the film beyond this.