Sunday, June 30, 2013
LINCOLN LAWYER, THE
(March 2011, U.S.)
It's rather unfortunate that the film adaptation of popular legal thrillers is a dying breed on the big screen. Not since John Grisham was all the rage in the 1990s has the legal thriller attracted very much attention in a world where the only thing on the big screen that seems to count anymore is the latest installment of the most popular comic book hero in digital 3D or whatever the common moviegoing public is willing to shell out excess dollars in movie ticket prices for. THE LINCOLN LAWYER, based on Michael Connelly's original novel was released in the Spring, where most films are likely destined to get lost in the shuffle of material as people eagerly countdown the weeks until the summer blockbuster season. That's really a shame, because it leaves nothing but luck and the popular word-of-mouth to get a great film like THE LINCOLN LAWYER its deserved attention.
This is the story of Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller (played by Matthew McConaughey) who operates around Los Angeles County out of his black Lincoln Town Car to avoid the hefty rent of an office. Mickey has spent most of his career defending garden-variety scumbag criminals until, by chance, he lands the case of his career: Louis Roulet (played by the rather irritating Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy and son of real estate mogul Mary Windsor (played by Frances Fisher), is accused of brutally beating of beautiful prostitute he met at a club. His defense is that her wounds were self-inflicted and that he was targeted because of his known wealth. Louis truly believes his innocence, and for a time, it seems that Mickey does, as well, despite making a career by never asking or even caring about his client's true innocence. This particular case even bears a similarity to a past case of Haller that landed a previous client, Jesus Martinez (played by Michael Peña), in prison for life for murdering anothger prostitute, despite always proclaiming his innocence. As crime story cliches and predictability would have it, the innocence of some and the true evil of others begin to leave a bad taste and a dent in the conscience of the traditional bloodsucking lawyer who defends the scumbags of the Earth.
Time allows Mickey, as well as the audience, to realize what a vicious and guilty son-of-a-bitch Louis really is. Still, obliged to do his best for his client, guilty or not, Mickey ruthlessly cross-examines the prostitute in question and easily discredits her in the jury's eyes. However, he also sets up a known prison informant with information on the previous murder that Jesus is accused of. When the informant testifies, Mickey discredits him also and the state inevitably moves to dismiss all charges in the current case against Louis. He's set free, only to be immediately arrested for the previous murder based upon testimony Mickey had coaxed out of the informant. Like all legal thrillers, justice is always served in the end and the lawyer gains some degree of humanity he lost over the years. That's the way it is and that's usually the way fans of legal thrillers like it. On the more annoying side of films like this, one must keep their their eyes, their ears and theri memories in sharp focus because of the rather extensive list of characters one has to keep track of, just like an Agatha Christie novel. Matthew McConaughey leads a very solid cast and provides real enjoyable legal entertainment with a degress of charm that somehow makes him the perfect choice to play a young attorney, as he also did in A TIME TO KILL (1996). No wonder they keep choosing this guy to play the quintessential boyfriend in so many romantic comedies over the last decade.
Favorite line or dialouge:
Mickey Haller: "When do you retire, Lankford?"
Detective Lankford: "When do I retire?"
Lankford: "Eighteen months. Why?"
Mickey: "I wanna make sure I show up the next morning so I can kick your ass!"