Movie Mind Says:  Add to Online Rental List

If You Like This You Should Watch:  Runaway Jury
Better Than:  Two for the Money
Worse Than:  A Time to Kill

The Lincoln Lawyer

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei

Sometimes a novel is the perfect precursor to a new life on the big screen. Other times, the words are better left on the page and in our imaginations. The Lincoln Lawyer’s original birth as a Michael Connelly novel is one that should have stayed in hardcover form forever. It’s not that I can blame Mr. McConaughey for all of it, as you have all come to know The Movie Mind’s disdain for the hack, but he certainly still shoulders a large share of the blame in turning out yet another piece of McCona-crap. That’s not to say the film was a complete failure because it wasn’t. It’s just that you might be better off catching a couple reruns of Law & Order or CSI to get the same type of gripping legal and courtroom drama that we got here.

A funny thing happened toward the end of the film that I found particularly noteworthy. Without risking a true spoiler, let’s just say it’s something that I never thought would happen. Matthew McConaughey has a couple scenes where he is required to do some acting within the role. Essentially it requires him to almost intentionally be a bad actor. It would be like asking LeBron to act poor or having A-Rod pretend to not be in love with Jeter. Basically the director would have been better off just saying, “Hey Matt, read these lines and just do you”.

Other than that noteworthy little nugget, there wasn’t a whole lot else that kept you on the edge of your seat. McConaughey plays Mick Haller, who for one reason or another apparently works out of his car that is, as you may have guessed, a Lincoln. Now before you make some of the logical and reasonable leaps as to why he does that, allow me to spare you. He actually does have a home, and he’s not completely poor because he has his own driver to shuttle him around in that vehicle from a different era. It kind of made me wonder for about half of the film if this was supposed to be based in the 90’s. If not, Lincoln paid a nice sum to Connelly and then the film to be the centerpiece and namesake for absolutely no good reason. Haller is a lawyer who works the system, acts cocksure no matter the situation, but still has some little twinge of decency that tugs at him to do the right thing. I know – revolutionary character that we haven’t seen in 100 other courtroom suspense thrillers or every single Tom Cruise movie. Nonetheless he gets a new client that is a big score and someone that pushes him to the edge of his moral obligation. Of course the whole plot hinges on classic legal theorems like “attorney client privilege” yet doesn’t seem to get some of the other basic ones right. Now I’m not an attorney but I’m pretty damn well sure there was an easier way for him to go about handling his dilemma than how he did.

Overall the film was just barely enough suspense to make me sit through it as it progressed, while calling out the plot twists before they came (Mrs. Movie Mind really loves it when I do that, trust me), and then only to experience a larger letdown from the ending. The film itself didn’t completely suck, but in an extremely crowded field within this genre, it didn’t do anything to distinguish itself either. Well, at least in a good way that is.
Submitted 8-1-11

Interesting Cameo Appearance:  Trace Adkins (aka the country music star but for the non-CMT fans, he can be remembered as the winner of Celebrity Apprentice…and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be remembered for anything having to do with Donald Trump?) as Eddie Vogel, a tough guy biker and ally of Mick Haller.
Memorable Quotes:
Mick Haller:
Eddie, we had a deal. Either you pay me, or go with a public defender.
Eddie Vogel: How ’bout five grand?
Mick Haller: Ten.
Eddie Vogel: Ain’t you gonna count it?
Mick Haller: I just did.

Earl: You’re nobody ’till somebody shoots you.

Earl: You know what? You would’ve done all right on the streets.
Mick Haller: Shit. Where do you think I am, Earl?

Mick Haller: I checked the list of people I trust and your name ain’t on it.

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