With The Lincoln Lawyer opening today, here’s my initial two-week-old response: “Lawyer is basically a high-intrigue investigation-and-trial drama with an unusual lead character — Matthew McConaughey‘s Mickey Haller, a bottom-feeding LA criminal attorney who operates out of his gas-guzzler. The story is about Haller being hired by an arrogant big-money client (Ryan Phillippe) and soon after finding himself in a difficult ethical spot.
“Lawyer doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It’s not quite as grave or surprising or jolting as Primal Fear, the 1996 Richard Gere-Edward Norton courtroom thriller that it resembles somewhat. So don’t go expecting a double-A powerhouse thing. But it moves along with good pace and purpose, and never bores and satisfies with the usual twists and turns and fake-outs and sharp dialogue.
“It almost feels like a two-hour pilot for an HBO series about Haller. Which I would watch, by the way.
For nearly 20 years McConaughey has under-achieved. The few good films he’s been in have been mostly ensembles (Dazed and Confused, U-571, We Are Marshall, Tropic Thunder) while many of his top-billed or costarring vehicles have been romantic dogshit, especially over the last decade. Lawyer is the first completely decent, above-average film McConaughey has carried all on his own. By his standards that’s close to a triumph.
The Lincoln Lawyer has been very ably directed by Brad Furman from a script by John Romano, based on Michael Connelly‘s novel of the same name. The costarring roles are well-written, and very persuasively performed by Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Michaela Conlin, Josh Lucas, Laurence Mason, Frances Fisher, John Leguizamo and Michael Pena.