Chris' Review of The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer(2011)
No matter how skeptical some of you out there might be towards Matthew McConaughey's acting ability or his film career, even you've got to admit that Matthew McConaughey is actually pretty good as the main character of Brad Furman's courtroom drama/thriller The Lincoln Lawyer. He brings enough of a certain charm to his character and proves that he is able to handle acting in a drama not to mention holding his own against the talented supporting cast he has to work with.
The Lincoln Lawyer stars McConaughey as a defense attorney whose latest case has him defending a wealthy playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of brutally beating a prostitute. As he tries to find evidence to prove that his client is innocent, certain complicated developments and discoveries ensue in which he becomes convinced that something even more sinister is taking place as he gets closer to proving his client's innocence.
Just as I've hinted at earlier, McConaughey is supported by a worthy ensemble cast which includes Marisa Tomei as his ex-wife, and William H. Macy as his investigator. Although there are some questionable story sidetracks (which I will tackle a little later), the story for the most part is relatively straightforward and well told. The director Brad Furman was wise enough to not bore me with lame writing. What he does instead is keep the plot moving along, keep me interested in where the plot would go, and he also makes sure the actors do their part just like he should.
So what aspects about this picture do I not care for? Well, this film is guilty of making some unusual film making and storytelling choices. For example, the film is mostly shot through the "shaky cam" technique in which the camera work is intentionally not still to make it seem more "realistic". While this type of film making technique would be fine in a film like Saving Private Ryan or any other action flick, it seems wildly out of place in a film like this where all the events that ensue within the plot are not as chaotic.
Another odd aspect is the film's soundtrack which is largely composed of rap music. While you could make the argument that the music is meant to represent the lawyer's clients in a way, I could also argue that the film's central focus is not on the clients but on the lawyer himself. Furthermore, I'm not sure a lawyer such as this one would really be listening to that type of music. I just feel that this soundtrack doesn't fit with the story that's being told and as a result, it comes off as inappropriate in my mind.
I also found Ryan Phillippe's performance as the lawyer's client to be pretty lousy. I didn't buy him as an innocent man, neither did I buy him as a villain. Additionally, the character he plays is either really bland or very whiny (half his dialogue is insisting that he didn't commit the crime which gets old fast) which isn't a good balance. There are also some story sidetracks in which I didn't fully understand the purpose of them. For example, the lawyer's negative relationship with Bryan Cranston's detective character or the necessity of Michael Pena's character to the central plot. Plot points like these feel more distracting to the plot than beneficial.
Aside from my personal issues with the film, the positive aspects of The Lincoln Lawyer ultimately outweigh those flaws and the film delivers on what it sets out to do which is satisfying two hours of my time. If you're looking for a solid courtroom drama/thriller to satisfy your spare time, The Lincoln Lawyer should fill the bill just fine. It's no 12 Angry Men, but it's good enough.