It has been some time since Matthew McConaughey stepped foot inside a courtroom; 15 years to be exact. That was in the John Grisham thriller, A Time To Kill (1996), where his laconic Southern charm and then Paul Newman-esque looks impressed audiences and launched his Hollywood career.
While the charm never dissipated, McConaughey's CV has been less than stellar; a mixed bag of sub par dramas and rom-coms almost eclipsed by his commercials for Dolce+Gabbana, where he appears sans shirt and barely speaks.
But The Lincoln Lawyer sees McConaughey deliver one of the better performances of his career, the courtroom setting seemingly rejuvenating his acting mojo. He's Mick Haller, the so-called Lincoln lawyer, who chooses to practice law from the back of his car rather than an office. It shouldn't inspire client confidence but Haller wins more often than not, and in the courtroom, as in sport, winning is everything.
That's probably why Louis Roulet (Ryan Philippe) comes to Haller when he's accused of beating a prostitute. The wealthy real estate agent swears his innocence and his even richer mother (an under used Frances Fisher) happily bankrolls his defense. Despite the doubts of his investigator Frank Levin (the always welcome William H. Macy), Haller takes on Roulet's case and the games begin.
Of course, none of this will come as a surprise to anyone who has seen the trailer for The Lincoln Lawyer, which spells out almost every major plot point and in doing so undermines any necessary suspense.
That David Furman's film, adapted by John Romano from the first of a series of novels by Michael Connelly, continues to maintain interest is a credit to the director, McConaughey (and his fellow cast mates, which also includes Marisa Tomei and John Leguizamo), and the inherent watchability of a good legal thriller, which The Lincoln Lawyer is.
It proves to be a smooth enough ride – and more than passable entertainment – and will provide more than a few unexpected turns for those fortunate enough not to have seen the spoilers. The jury's still out on the trailer makers.