No flash but a lot of story in legal thriller

Matthew McConaughey stars in the new legal thriller

Matthew McConaughey stars in the new legal thriller

The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t a brilliant movie, but it’s a solid one; smart, comfortable and above all, it’s old school. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time a Hollywood thriller had the guts to put away the bells, the whistles and simply allow its characters to talk to one another.

Based on the Michael Connelly book of the same title, The Lincoln Lawyer features Matthew McConaughey wearing a shirt — a rarity — as Mick Haller, a lawyer who works from his car (hence the name of the novel/flick). McConaughey is quite good in the role. And after a handful of fluffy cornball romance comedies, that too is a rarity. But it shouldn’t be a surprise.

If you’ll recall, one of McConaughey’s springboards to fame was his role in A Time To Kill in which he played … yep … a lawyer. And although that film, a courtroom classic by John Grisham, was a beauty, The Lincoln Lawyer is an entirely different, yet equally good legal thriller. This movie has little flash; it’s washed-out, not pretty and totally reliant on storytelling. And I like that.

The tale has Haller agreeing to represent wealthy brat Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), charged with beating a woman who was a prostitute on the make. Roulet’s mother (Frances Fisher) is prepared to pay whatever it takes to protect him. And with Mickey’s reputation for keeping clients — good and bad — out of the slammer and on the streets, he and his network of “associates” who work the rough edges of Los Angeles seem like the perfect fit for the case.

Initially, Routlet’s case seems to be the financial slam-dunk it’s supposed to be. Until… (and there it is! I love the “until”).

Unlike similar stories that fall into a cluttered pit of preposterous turns, the “until” in The Lincoln Lawyer will actually grab you. Again, it’s not a jaw-dropping swerve, or some profound, life-changing hurdle (a la The Verdict) that has you suddenly cheering for this individual who evidently loves cash more than good deeds. The characters in The Lincoln Lawyer, specifically McConaughey’s Haller, aren’t easy to love — but they are interesting and you do care about what happens to them. And that, my friends, makes for a good, unpretentious film. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing more of this guy.

Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give The Lincoln Lawyer a four. The feature is currently playing at the Pen Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.


Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.