Right from the ‘70s themed start, “The Lincoln Lawyer” felt like it would deliver a different breed of courtroom drama, and it certainly did. The movie begins with the title character, Mick Haller (McConaughey), a well-dressed and extremely cocky defense lawyer who’s turned his car, an old Lincoln, into his office on wheels (hence the title). The trailer presented the movie with a certain intensity, and the finished product does not disappoint.
Facing charges of rape and attempted murder, Louis Roulet (Phillippe) seeks out Haller to represent him. Since Roulet comes from a wealthy family, Haller thinks he may have hit the jackpot on this case. When the two men meet, Roulet emotionally insists that he is innocent of all charges, and that the whole ordeal is ridiculous.
His lawyer seems to be nearly convinced by Roulet’s words. But the more Haller and his private-investigator friend Frank Levin (William H. Macy) dig into the case, the less convinced they become of his innocence. The plot begins to thicken as Roulet senses their loyalty to him is beginning to fade.
I found Haller to be immediately likeable. While he puts off a certain arrogance, he also has a unique code of conduct that he lives by, even if the people around him don’t always agree with it.
On the other hand, I almost immediately disliked Roulet. The fact that I saw the trailer beforehand doesn’t help his case, but he seems to think he is above all the legal drama he is wrapped up in. It is almost like he figures rich people like him shouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of even going to trial. Even if I hadn’t seen the trailer, I think this would’ve bothered me, though I may not have been so hasty to assume that Roulet may very well be guilty.
As he begins his research, Haller notices similarities between this case and another he had been involved in a few years before. Then, he realizes that there is a very rational and pre-determined reason why Roulet chose him as his attorney, and he begins to wonder if losing this case might actually be the best possible outcome.
Based on a novel by Michael Connelly, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is led strongly by the performances of McConaughey and Macy. I found myself quickly siding with them, and I was very curious to how the story would unravel. Even after Haller starts to believe his client may be deceiving him, he somehow manages to keep his cool with the spoiled brat. After a spell of fairly lame movies, Matthew McConaughey delivers a lot more in this movie. He seems to embrace a more serious, non-comedic role.
As Roulet’s trial reaches its conclusion, the story’s climax is reached, and I found this part of the movie to be by far the most engaging. All the while, I felt as though Haller’s character had some ace up his sleeve, but it isn’t revealed until the perfect moment. Roulet makes his move, and the viewer is left to impatiently await Haller’s imminent counter-strike. The film ends with just as much flavor as it begins with, and Haller shows everyone around him that, while being a defense lawyer has its drawbacks, it also has its benefits.
Overall, I would recommend “The Lincoln Lawyer.” I’m even considering reading the novel. In what I would call a bit of a dry spell for Hollywood, this movie stands out a bit more than others around it.