March 24, 2011

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

Like many of you, my fleeting relationship with The Lincoln Lawyer began not with the Michael Connelly novel but with the first trailer. This trailer brought with it some conflicting feelings and a genuine wonder of what this movie was supposed to be. Then the second trailer came out and it went in an entirely different direction, further muddying the waters. It strikes me that the studio knew they had a movie that could do well but they had no idea quite how to market it besides getting Matthew McConaughey's face on the screen. This seems pretty evident based on the odd tonal shifts of the trailers.

If you will indulge me some, I will let you know exactly what I mean by that. The first trailer starts of trying to sell it as a light hearted romp. Just listen to he music and the interactions with the biker gang, you can't say that doesn't make it look like a "fun" sort of movie. The tone begins to shift as we are introduced to the Ryan Philippe character before making the whole thing seem a little more sinister. Then the second trailer came out and it looked much more like a thriller and employs that post-2001 technique of giving away too much.

So, with all that in mind I decided to give the movie a go anyway. I am glad I did as it plays out much like what we want from a big screen thrill ride while giving a bit of an old school feel. This is a talky movie with a host of characters and a little bit of action. It does not rely n special effects or big explosive action. Oh no. The Lincoln Lawyer relies on writing and execution to pull it through. Don't go by those odd and annoying trailers, instead go and see the movie if you are interested in a pulpy crime thriller with a solid cast.

The story follows Micky Haller (McConaughey), a lawyer whose office is the back of his Lincoln Town Car. He is driven around as he meets with his clientele, a collection of bikers, druggies, and other folks you  probably don't want to spend too much time with. Well, following a meeting with one of said clients, he is pointed in the direction of a different type of client, one with money and means.

Louis Roulet (Philippe) is a rich guy with plenty of money to spare. He has been arrested on suspicion of a vicious beating of a woman. He proclaims his innocence and hires Haller on to defend him. What follows is a thriller that is pretty predictable, but that aside, it moves quickly, is involving and is supported by a really good supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Michael Pena, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, and Bryan Cranston.

I would tell you that the story is not quite what it seems, but I think you could already guess that. Wait, I think I did just tell you. Whatever, doesn't matter. Just let it be said that the plot may not be perfect, it may have a few holes in it, but in the moment it works. It is exciting and I actually felt involved.

What really makes this work is how it relies on the dialogue and the characters. It does not feel like the modern money-making machines that Hollywood generally turns out. This is not to say it is a great movie, it's not, but it is certainly solid. Wow, now I feel like I am repeating myself. I can live with that. I do like the way the cast gels and makes the screenplay work as well as it does.

Not sure what else to say about this. I know I did not give you all that much detail, but I think the movie plays out better that way. Besides, it shouldn't take you long to figure it out along the way. Even knowing how the plot goes didn't hurt the experience for me. I found the acting to be pretty good and I actually cared about the characters.


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