The Review: It’s been fifteen years, believe it or not, since Matthew McConaughey was hailed as The Next Big Thing. His starring role in the John Grisham legal adaptation A Time To Kill, and his performance at the head of a cast that ranged from Sandra Bullock to Kevin Spacey and nearly everyone in between seemed to see him set for fame and fortune. Sadly, everything since has been an anti-climax, and the last decade has seen him stuck in a rut of poor action movies and even poorer romantic comedies. So where better to retreat to than the courtroom when it’s time to try to refresh that career? For some reason, McConaughey’s career seems to come built in with low expectations, but anyone going into The Lincoln Lawyer should have no qualms about raising them.
The Lincoln Lawyer is an adaptation of Michael Connolly’s novel in which he introduces the character of Mick Haller (McConaughey). Based out of the back of his Lincoln town car, Haller oozes charm and has an angle or a play for every situation. He’s recommended to pick up the case of spoiled rich kid Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), accused of assault but adamant of his innocence. As he digs deeper into the case, he juggles not only the other clients he represents, but also his ex-wife (Marisa Tomei) and their young daughter. Things aren’t as they first seem and soon Haller is having to find new angles and new plays as his own situation worsens.
If you came in half way through The Lincoln Lawyer, you may be forgiven for thinking that it’s a bog standard legal thriller, albeit a well executed one. But by then you’d already have missed several of the twists and turns that the plot takes, and director Brad Furman keeps the pace moving along effortlessly. The film does succeed in subverting expectations and plays with the conventions of the genre, so it manages to feel fresher than it probably should, and McConaughey gives a rangy, solid performance, both likeable and human and keeping you guessing as to his far ahead, if at all, he is of the plot gears turning.
McConaughey has outshone much better casts, but The Lincoln Lawyer does at least have a quality roster of character actors, including the likes of William H Macy, Bryan Cranston and Bob Gunton give solid support. Marisa Tomei especially continues the good run she’s been on and McConaughey will, I’m sure, be hoping for a similarly good sequence of parts to befall him in the next few years. When it comes to summing up, The Lincoln Lawyer is quietly efficient and solid, rather than spectacular, entertainment but it’s a welcome return to form for its lead; let’s hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Mick Haller on the big screen.
Why see it at the cinema: The tense, sweaty atmosphere will bubble and simmer nicely inside a packed cinema – this is good enough to deserve at least one or two of those.
The Score: 7/10