Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
You may wonder what would be so bad about being young, rich and famous. Ask Louis Roulet (Phillippe). A simple night out at the club has led to his arrest for the horrific beating of a young woman. With the help of a bondsman (John Leguizamo) he retains the services of hot shot lawyer Mick Haller (McConaughey). As Mick gathers evidence it’s pretty obvious that Roulet is innocent. Right?
Based on the novel by Michael Connelly, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is a legal thriller in the same vein as “The Firm” or “Presumed Innocent.” Both of those films had two things going for them: a strong script and a stronger cast. The title refers to the fine automobile that Mick rides around town in. Accompanied by his driver Earl (Laurence Mason), Mick works his cell phone frantically, his personalized license plate NTGUILTY letting everyone know who’s coming down the street. This is one of McConaughey’s strongest performances. Here he leaves the soft drawling Texan behind and plays a character who is firm in his beliefs and ruthless in the actions he takes to defend his clients. If you took Jake Brigance from “A Time To Kill” and combined him with agent Rick Peck from “Tropic Thunder” you would get Mick Haller. Tomei gets second billing here but doesn’t have too much to do as Mick’s ex-wife/district attorney (the only false note in the script…it’s been done to death in too many other films). Phillippe, who in my opinion has always been underrated, does a fine job as the accused, giving a performance that has you questioning your own judgment as to whether Roulet is innocent or guilty. Fine supporting work is also turned in by William H. Macy, Frances Fisher and Michael Pare’, probably best known as Eddie Wilson from “Eddie and the Cruisers.”
Besides it’s convenient DA/ex-wife sub-plot, the film is smartly written, giving the audience enough clues and red herrings to keep them guessing the truth. Director Furman, who worked with Leguizamo in his directing debut “The Take,” sets a strong pace and the film rarely loses speed as the story progresses.