A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
The Lincoln Lawyer
It's been 16 years since Matthew McConaughey has been in the courtroom, during which time he's spent underachieving in lackluster romantic comedies. Now he returns with a legal thriller which demonstrates that he still has some acting ability left in him. Here he stars as a hotshot L.A. defense attorney, known for getting scumbags off the hook while operating out of his Lincoln Continental. One day, some business is thrown his way in the form of rich young kid accused of battery and what looks like an easy buck is soon turned into and engrossing case with moral complexities that jeopardizes his and those around him's safety. (spoilers ahead) The Lincoln Lawyer has one of those silly legal plots that are only found in paperbacks and the Hollywood adaptations that follow. Here, we have a unique scenario where the defendant orchestrates his release by convincing his attorney of his innocence, when really he is guilty not only of this crime but of an earlier one where that defendant was sent up the river while defended by the same attorney. Now when the defendant gets wind that the attorney is on to him, the two become enemies playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. This situation sets up for many instances where sustained thought would unravel the whole film. However, the film is well handled and the movie stays relatively intact. The film is also a prime example of how far good writing and solid acting can carry a film (directorial, its amateur hour). With the exception of Ryan Phillippe, who still hasn't grown as an actor and is not believable as the villainous defendant, we get fine work from all around particularly McConaughey in the lead, Josh Lucas as the prosecutor, Marisa Tomei as another attorney and McConaughey's ex, and William H. Macy as his investigator. The Lincoln Lawyer is popcorn with a plot that probably wouldn't hold water, and goes on for too long, with a few to many endings when the first one would have sufficed and the subsequent ones seem overblown. Still it is entertaining and for a movie of this kind, its dialogue is surprisingly sharp and the acting is strong.