LINCOLN LAWYER, THE

THE PLOT THUS FAR

A lawyer conducts business from the back of his Lincoln town car while representing a high-profile client in Beverly Hills.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

In the gripping thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer,” Matthew McConaughey stars as Michael “Mick” Haller, a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental sedan. Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter- variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of attempted murder. However, what initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money pay-off swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

McConaughey is no idealist, his services come at a price. But it turns out he has some scruples and they are put to the test when rich boy Ryan Phillippe and his mother Frances Fisher hire him to defend Ryan when he’s arrested for rape. He was literally caught in the act as two neighbors broke in and held him for the cops for raping Marguerite Levieva. Due to the canons of the Bar Association ethics McConaughey finds himself in a jackpot similar to the one Al Pacino found himself when he played a young idealistic lawyer in And Justice For All. But the results are a whole lot different because McConaughey is not an idealist and he makes those canons work for him.

The production team had the unenviable task of condensing Connelly’s page-turning novel into a two-hour movie, and he does so superbly without losing any of the tension or suspense in the story. He also loses none of Connelly’s debates about the vagaries in the justice system, seeing as how attorneys like Haller manage to put the innocent in jail and the guilty back out on the streets. Haller’s crisis of conscience is also at the heart of the movie, and McConaughey gets to do some serious acting when his character is eventually confronted with the magnitude of his past follies.

On his part, director Brad Furman (The Take) keeps the pace of the movie crackling every step of the way, making this as much of a gripping yarn as reading Connelly’s novel. Furman’s most significant accomplishment is in employing Lukas Ettlin’s cinematography to give the movie a great sense of place amidst the less glamorous streets of Los Angeles, an unpretty look that suits the theme of the story just fine. Of course, Furman and Ettlin are equally adept when it comes to courtroom drama, and the back-and-forth questioning by Haller and the inexperienced prosecutor (Josh Lucas) unfolds with sizzling rhythm.

The Blu-Ray comes with deleted scenes, featurettes and a bonus DVD copy. The DTS-HD 7.1 master audio track is reference quality, as you experience the closest to real cinema quality that you’re going to get in a home theater. It’s so pristine, that you’ll pick up outside dialogue other than the scene you’re watching. I would’ve liked to have seen more bonus material that covered the world of the literary Lincoln Lawyer, but the production was able to get a better grasp without it. Also, what’s the deal with having no commentary? This was a pretty popular movie. I’d still recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 07/12/2011

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