A Clever, Engrossing, Entertaining Legal Thriller
The memorable central character in The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) is a cocky, tricky, system-gaming, less-than-squeaky-clean defense attorney named Mick Haller, and he is brilliantly captured by lead actor Matthew McConaughey. But the film also boasts a number of strong supporting performances by well-known actors, including Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, and Frances Fisher.
The title The Lincoln Lawyer comes about because Haller doesn't have an office, instead working out of a car, an old Lincoln with license plate NTGUILTY. But Haller has grown cynical because, in truth, practically everyone he defends is guilty. Still, he tries to keep in mind a saying by his father, who was also a defense attorney: "There's no client as scary as an innocent man."
The film shows us Haller dealing with typical clients, including a marijuana farmer, a motorcycle gang and a hooker busted for cocaine possession. But he soon gets the lucrative case of a well-to-do realtor (Ryan Phillippe) charged with beating up a pretty young woman. At first the case seems routine, but then there's a murder, and Haller finds himself drawn into a dangerous situation. Along the way, he must do some soul-searching.
The story, adapted from Michael Connelly's 2005 novel, has lots of twists, and the film offers plenty of sparkling dialogue. The movie has compelling narrative drive and is briskly paced. Visually, the film is straightforward, but it captures the Los Angeles ambience, making good use of a few off-the-beaten-path locations.
The DVD containing The Lincoln Lawyer provides a total of about 34 minutes of extras.
The best of the bonus materials by far is the 10-minute "Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road." Connelly, whose residence these days is in Florida, takes viewers on his own personal tour of Los Angeles, a city where he lived for several years. He says that when he was 19 he saw The Long Goodbye (1973), which led him to read Raymond Chandler, and that's what made him want to write crime novels. He tells about talking with real-life defense attorneys to get some of the key ideas for The Lincoln Lawyer, and he drives out to the San Fernando Valley to a place where he set much of the novel: the Van Nuys Civic Center, an unglamorous complex that includes two courthouses and an LAPD building.
The remaining extras are of mild interest. The 5 1/2-minute "One on One With McConaughey and Connelly" has the lead actor and the novelist discussing Haller, the story's central character. (McConaughey refers to him as Mick as is done in the film, while Connelly calls him Mickey as is written in the books.) The 14-minute "Making the Case: Creating The Lincoln Lawyer" has the producers and actors talking about the movie, and screenwriter John Romano and director Brad Furman are heard from briefly. Finally, there are four not-particularly-worthwhile deleted scenes with a total runtime of about four minutes.
DVD Release Date: July 12, 2011
Feature Film Runtime: 1 hour 59 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Some Violence, Sexual Content and Language