Monday, March 21, 2011

Film Review: Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Genres: Drama


Matthew McConaughey as Mick Haller
Marisa Tomei  as Maggie McPherson
Ryan Phillippe as Louis Roulet
William H. Macy  as Frank Levin
Josh Lucas as Ted Minton
John Leguizamo as Val Valenzuela
Michael Peña as Jesus Martinez
Bob Gunton as Cecil Dobbs
Frances Fisher as Mary Windsor
Bryan Cranston as Detective Lankford
Trace Adkins as Eddie Vogel
Laurence Mason as Earl
Margarita Levieva as Reggie Campo

Memorable quotes: I'll tell ya this, ya got more balls than a Chinese ping pong tournament.

After taking my dear old Mom to see Black Swan, I decided I should do something nice for her, such as taking her to another film. I had two things going for me here. One, Mom is a kind and forgiving person, as evidenced by my own survival into maturity (chronologically speaking, anyway). Two, Main Lady selected the film and told Mom that she had selected it based on something she heard on NPR. I have decided to write this review without spoilers, so anyone who hasn't seen the film yet can enjoy it.

Our protagonist is a street wise criminal defense attorney who is fast on his feet and will represent anyone to the best of his considerable ability for money. The man keeps his office in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car. He employs a chauffeur due to a misunderstanding about blood alcohol limits and bad driving. He is divorced, his wife being the prosecuting attorney. He does not have a drinking problem, as he has plenty of money and a friendly bartender who is willing to serve him drinks as long as he remains on his bar stool. Our hero takes a case and lives to regret it.

The strong points of this film are not in the plot, which is standard courtroom drama without any new twists or turns. It's in the presentation of the plot that the strength is revealed. Major characters develop, and they do so for good reason. People have convictions, and although the supporting characters are a little over done, it doesn't detract from the film or make the characters boring or tedious. For instance, when one somewhat addled man on the witness stand tries to recall a few details about past events, he casually remarks, "Let's see, that was back in '06... I don't know - I was pretty high that year."

When the drama is broken up with some comic relief, the timing is perfect. The characters the protagonist meets are colorful, and somehow someone managed to hire a writer or two who could actually write good dialog for the characters. The actors really bring it off well.

Compared to most films the sets and costuming are minimal, but then this is a crime drama. I'm not looking for plane crashes and car bombs, and I don't get any. Which is a big relief, by the way. The drama stands nicely on its own without crude distractions - explosions, strip clubs and gratuitous violence are eliminated. While I wouldn't take small children to see the film, I don't really see anything wrong with taking anyone 16 or older to see it. It's a great film.

It's likely that the worst part of the film is the over drawing of supporting characters. The police are all stereotypes, as are other attorneys. As is everyone else who appears in a supporting role. So, if you are easily offended by such things, park the chip on your shoulder and watch the film anyway. It's likely you'll enjoy it.

This is one of the few films that I think is worth the full price of admission. Watching it reminds me of reading a great crime novel. I'm giving it five out of five.

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