The Lincoln Lawyer * * *

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Director: Brad Furman.
Screenplay: John Romano.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Bob Gunton, Frances Fisher, Bryan Cranston, Trace Adkins, Shea Whigham, Michael Pare.

Court room drama’s and legal jargon can be surprisingly gripping entertainment, which makes me wonder why there isn’t more of them. Unfortunately, we’ve been fed a staple of John Grisham stories throughout the years which I find empty and do very little for me. But it was John Grisham adaptation “A Time to Kill” years ago that Matthew McConaughey was actually any good in a film. Until now.

L.A. criminal lawyer Mick Haller (McConaughey), who works out of his chauffeured Lincoln Continental car, takes on an unusually high-profile case defending Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), the scion of a wealthy family who’s accused of beating and raping a prostitute. There’s clearly more to it than meets the eye though, and it may tie into a case Haller tried some years ago.

Slick, fast and cool. This starts with an energy that Grisham adaptations lack and it’s good to see McConaughey drop those abysmal rom-coms and tackle a role more suited to his style. However, with such a strong opening and fast pace, it soon gets bogged down around the midway point and struggles to recover. McConaughey goes from confident and fast talking to angst ridden and desperate rather quickly. It’s a sudden change that doesn’t suit but McConaughey shows impressive range nonetheless. And just when he gets back to his old self, the denoument then feels rushed. His once strained relationship with his ex-wife becomes unrealistic and the whole affair is wrapped up rather quickly, leaving what was a very strong and potentially great film falling flat.

A good legal thriller that moves at a brisk pace with several twists and turns. It starts to eventually trip over itself and doesn’t fulfill it’s early promise but it just about manages to get by on McConaughey’s charisma.

Mark Walker

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