The Lincoln Lawyer

27 11 2011
(Originally posted on alternate site – July 13, 2011)
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About an hour in to The Lincoln Lawyer, supporting character, attorney Ed Minton (played by the always engaging Josh Lucas) reminds us:   Anyone can be the victim of a violent crime.

The 119-minute drama, which opened in theaters last March, centers on a mid-level defense attorney named Mickey Haller. Haller is the subject of a series of novels written by Michael Connelly, the first of which was released in 2005.

The story and all the players are well conceived, but this thriller failed to get my blood pumping the way McConaughey’s previous turns as hero for the everyman in A Time to Kill and We Are Marshall.

I had hoped the classic Lincoln Haller and his chauffer, Earl, spend so much time in would be a character in itself.  However,  while prominent to the business of this slick penal guru, the towncar plays a lesser part than expected — given that it is a key term in the title! “The Lawyer” doesn’t quite have the same punch.

McConaughey’s dip into the sordid is a welcome change from his pretty-boy roles in such films as Fool’s Gold, Failure to Launch, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.  His charming Southern drawl is irrepressible, and while it is a trait that gives a little extra color to each character he plays — it is oddly recieved in this film, as the story plays out entirely in the state of California.

Ryan Phillipe, as entitled playboy Louis Roulet, was a dry, frustrated version of Sebastian Valmont — the wealthy, wayward bad-boy he played in 1999′s Cruel Intentions.   The sparkle gone from his once-beautiful blue eyes… Methinks when one cheats on Hollywood darling Reese Witherspoon, the universe strips away some of your talent.

An underused John Leguizamo plays Val Valenzuela, a character not outlined in available novel descriptions. This role had the potential to be as bad-ass as Leguizamo’s cocaine-dealing guerilla Felix Ramirez in Collateral Damage and vindictive as his Tybalt in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adapatation of Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.  Instead, the two-faced bail bondsman yields to Haller at every confrontation. He has a hand in the plot against Haller, facilitating the meeting of lawyer and client, but he removes himself from the toxicity as it grows.

Seasoned screen actor William H. Macy blends in to the fast-paced, bright California setting as Haller’s go-to guy, private investigator Frank Levin. Looking more hippie than sleuth, Levin ultimately seals his own fate when he trusts his partner’s “instincts” (arrogance and greed) above his own.  The role is paramount to the beleaguered Haller evaluating the cause & effect of his strategies, but unfortunately Macy’s screentime is limited. 

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Related items:
Roger Ebert’s Review of The Lincoln Lawyer
Lionsgate website for The Lincoln Lawyer

If you are interested in The Lincoln Lawyer you may also like:
Fracture
Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

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One response

28 11 2011
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