It’s simple to know whether you’re going to like this film or not. If you have a remote interest in a courtroom scene, where a lawyer and a prosecutor delivers their respective closing speech in front of the judge, the jury, and especially, you, the audience, then you’ll like this film. It’s a smart, and a thrilling tale of a lawyer who had found himself with doubts about his client’s virtue, but yet, had no choice but to going at it in a manner where his professional attitude and his moral conscience inevitably collide.
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey, at one of his best performance) is a lawyer. He conducts his business from the back of his Lincoln town car, driven around city by his trusted chauffeur, Earl (Laurence Mason) from one deal to another. At the early scenes, as we get to know him a bit better, we are shown that Mick represents mostly, the undesirables. Drug dealers, prostitutes, and everything in between. But a high-profile client, multi-millionaire youth from Beverly Hills, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) may prove to be his make or break chance.
The introduction scenes were manic. If it meant to capture the dynamic of Mick as he went about town from site to site, from court to court, greeting friends and enemies alike, with his Lincoln town car featured prominently, it did so amiably. The rapid fire word spits were also noteworthy and turning itself into a character of its very own. It should be noted that this could also make or break the experience as well, for not everyone is in love with a fast talking movie. Understandably, when the film introduces the young millionaire Louis Roulet as Mick’s next, high-profile client, it slows down perceptibly to make way for the slower intricate details that eventually boiled down to Mick’s conscience conflict.
Honestly, I can’t remember when the last time Matthew McConaughey shown a little more effort on his acting prior to this film. I was tempted and rightly so, to say that this film is probably one of the best of his career (“Two for the Money” is perhaps the other one). Most would knew him from a stale genre of romantic comedy and it obviously doesn’t say much. But in this film, he donned his smart and suave attire comfortably, and his emotional strain during the highest tension of this film was a scene to behold.
Besides that, I was floored by Ryan Phillippe as well. In one particular scene, where he has to give his testimony on the witness box was so great that I almost ashamed to have underestimated him in the first place. But in my defense, his resume prior to this film wasn’t really that impressive anyway.
All in all, with a certain drought plagued the local theater recently, the arrival of “The Lincoln Lawyer” is something nearly akin to blessing. Taut, smart, and engaging courtroom thriller with convincing performances, it was, so far, the best film of the release year 2011 that I’ve seen. Now, if I’m about to nitpick, I feel that the role bestowed upon Marisa Tomei was a one that doesn’t really serve any purpose though I’m certain that it wasn’t the case in the book version which this film is based upon.
My rating: *** / **** – Simple. If you liked a courtroom drama, you’ll be absorbed by this film. Not fan of a film that spent almost all of its running time talking? I’d suggest to see only if your mood is right. It was, however, one of Matthew McConaughey’s best performance in a film.
PS: The version I’m watching (one screened in local theater) had a terrible subtitle. I had decided to forego it entirely fairly early in the film.