Monday, May 28, 2012

Matthew McConaughey for the win: The Lincoln Lawyer

 Standing in direct opposition to many of its new-release cohorts and improving the image of attorneys everywhere, The Lincoln Lawyer is a skillful production of an interesting story with one of the best ensemble casts thrown together in years. Some viewers will love this film for its ambience: the Town Car, the bikes, the smooth music, and the booze; others will appreciate McConaughey's always-suave, hint of Texas drawl together with the white tank tops or the perfectly devilish curl to his hair---either way, director Brad Furman delivers.

The experience of this film is very much like watching Jagged Edge but trickier and with better hair. McConaughey plays nice-guy defense attorney, Mick Haller (whose trials and tribulations echo Glenn Close's in Jagged Edge almost meticulously). Different however is the level of likeability we get from the characters along the way and Mick himself; who knew courtrooms and penal systems had so much personality? These people (McConaughey, Lawrence Mason, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo) are the life of the party! The feel-good vibe stops once Haller's newest client (played by Ryan Phillippe, always disturbingly believable in wealthy, despicable roles) walks onto the scene; he's been arrested for the attempted murder of a prostitute with (you guessed it) a knife with a jagged edge. 
The trick is not so much determining guilt or innocence, but whether or not Haller will be able to do the right thing, as it were. One of McConaughey's best scenes comes when, drunk and upset, he admits to his ex-wife Maggie (Tomei) that he is scared by the evil that he sees, the people he fights to keep on the streets. The power of a film like this comes with how invested we become in Haller's character; we want him to win just as much as we want Phillippe's Roulet to tank! The subtle struggle between these two men, dressed alike and seated side-by-side in the courtroom is wonderfully tense and drawn-out, a good verses evil battle to the very end. And while the aforementioned knife gets retired long before the film's conclusion, don't think for a minute that come-uppances aren't as effective by the way of baseball bats . . . (!) Right on!