Skip to main content

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Summary: A lawyer conducts business from the back of his Lincoln town car while representing a high-profile client in Beverly Hills.
Spoilers: none

Based off of the novel by Michael Connelly entitled The Lincoln Lawyer, we have the movie adaptation of the story of “Mick Haller” (Matthew McConaughey), a hotshot California defense attorney who spends most of his time working from the back seat of his old-model Lincoln Town Car.

In Beverly Hills, Haller is famous for three things—his high prices, his high-profile clients, and his ability to make the criminal cases against his clients go away. Haller’s best friend and investigator, “Frank Levin” (William H. Macy) and his dependable chauffeur, “Earl” (Laurence Mason) are valued parts of his team.

Marisa Tomei is “Maggie McPherson,” a D.A. and representative for the state. Haller and McPherson have a past and a young daughter together, but aside from the occasional hook-up, only unite for an exchange of favors on cases and some off-the-clock good times.

When presented with the case of “Louis Roulet” (Ryan Phillippe), a young man accused of attempting to kill and rape a prostitute, Haller will uncover a pile of evidence that will put him in touch with one of his prior cases where a man named “Jesus Martinez” (Michael Pena) was accused of murder.

In his quest to get Roulet acquitted, Haller must take on lead prosecutor “Josh Lucas” (Ted Minton), which becomes progressively difficult when Haller discovers that the state has the deck stacked against him by way of evidence, adding to the worrisome fact that his rich, privileged client has been less than forthcoming.

Haller is also at odds with “Detective Lankford” (Bryan Cranston) who sees big-time lawyers like Haller as menaces who shouldn’t be able to sleep at nights. With a network of supporters representing the defense and the prosecution, the audience is to understand that our painfully imperfect system – flawed as it may be – only works when its agents take their respective sides and battle it out. That is how justice is served. But what has never been a problem for Haller suddenly becomes one, when for the first time in his luminous career, he finds himself questioning which side he is on.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a well-written movie about the legal system. The film entertains not because of its novelty or good writing, but because of its uneven, drama-clustered story. What the film does not do is separate itself from so many other films in the genre that end up in the courtrooms, where the prodigious defense attorney grows a conscience after years of getting criminals acquitted, or else finds out that his “innocent” client has a dark past.

There really are no hidden messages here or themes beyond the intricacies of the plot. Money exchanges hands, evidence is viewed and reviewed, and the legal system grinds its gears in trying to administer what we want to call justice. Courtroom politics and the back-and-forth of the legal system are the main attractions in a movie where not all of the characters have as much dimension as they could or should have.

But The Lincoln Lawyer is a respectable film, one that takes its audience well inside two cases of murder and attempted murder as a powerful family fights to keep their son out of prison while his lawyer struggles with the fact that he is having a hard time believing in anyone’s innocence anymore, and coming to terms with how this has affected his judgment.

Movies that end up in the courtroom have a strange way of getting back to the moral outlook of the main character. This one is no exception, but in a world of supposedly blind legal impartiality, how are we all reaching out for favors? How can we keep true to our principles as Haller appears to be so good at doing?

Every movie about crime and criminals have some gripe about the system (they would or else they would never have been made), but the only gripe I have is how a work like this can score so many points and yet still fail to reach its potential.

This isn’t the first time McConaughey has charmed audiences as a high-powered defense attorney, and I suspect it won’t be the last. But it isn’t his finest, either. The pacing of the story is our only real problem. It isn’t until the movie ends that the strung-out plot is finally wound down and loose ends tied up. As a result, it feels a little forced.


Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars)
Rated: R (for some violence, sexual content, and language)
Director: Brad Furman
Starring: “Mick Haller” (Matthew McConaughey), “Maggie McPherson” (Marisa Tomei), “Louis Roulet” (Ryan Phillippe), “Frank Levin” (William H. Macy), “Ted Minton” (Josh Lucas), “Jesus Martinez” (Michael Peña), “Cecil Dobbs” (Bob Gunton), “Detective Lankford” (Bryan Cranston), “Eddie Vogel” (Trace Adkins), “Earl” (Laurence Mason)
Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller


Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part II of II)

#1) The Douwds – From Star Trek The Next Generation

Claim to fame: This Douwd went from pacifist to mass murderer of 50 billion in a single moment of anger. He appears to hold the record for most murders in all of sci-fi.
Abilities: Just about unlimited.
Nature: True immortals.

Our winner, debatably edging out number #2, is a mysterious race of beings called the Douwds. We only get to meet one of their kind in a single episode (#51, season 3 - see the condensed version here) called “The Survivors.” It was one of the very best of any season. What little we know of this illusive race “of disguises and false surroundings” only adds to our fascination with them.

When the Enterprise gets an urgent distress call from a federation colony on Delta Rana IV about an attacking alien warship, they head over as fast as they can, but they are days away. By the time they arrive, it is too late. All are dead and the planet has been literally leveled…with the sole exception of one house and the small pa…