Movies

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

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I’m a fan of the great legal thrillers of the 90s. “A Time to Kill,” featuring a promising young actor, largely unknown at the time, named Matthew McConaughey, was one of them. Considering the light romcom flicks he’s mostly known by in the last decade, it’s good to see that serious side back.

In “The Lincoln Lawyer,” McConaughey is Mickey ‘Mick’ Haller, a defense attorney for those at the bottom of the society’s barrel – murderers, drug dealers, prostitutes. Forget right or wrong. Justice equals cash – simple as that. Although if there’s something to be said about Mick, he knows what his clients are and sees them as who they are. His job is just to negotiate the best plea bargain for every client that would net a win-win situation; lesser sentence for his client and more dollars in his pocket.

Mick conducts most of his business at the back of his Lincoln car, chauffeured by his loyal driver, ‘Earl’ (Laurence Mason). With the aid of his private investigator friend, Frank Levin (William Macy), bailbond man Val Valenzuela (John Leguizamo), and legal assistant ‘Lorna’ (Pell James), he has everything his needs to find loopholes in slippery legal waters and still be in business. He also enjoys a very friendly relation with his prosecutor ex-wife, Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei), with whom he shares a daughter.

It’s no longer business as usual, however, when Mick takes on a case involving a baby-faced client, Louis Roulete (Ryan Phillippe), from the country club set with a prominent real-estate magnate for a mother Mary Windsor (Frances Fisher). Louis is accused for sexual assault and vehemently claims his innocence. When the victim, Reggie Campo (Margarita Levieva), accusing him is a highly paid escort looking to leave her sleazy life behind and evidence seems to slant in his favor, this looks like a slam dunk case. Not so, according to assistant district attorney Ted Minton (Josh Lucas).

The case turns out to good to be true and takes a sinister turn. A connection with a former client, Jesus Martinez (Michael Pena), now in a state penitentiary for the murder of another prostitute, comes to surface and shakes Mick’s long-held belief. Who is his newest client?

The scariest client is the one who is innocent, as a false move could send them straight to prison. Mick used to be scared of innocence; now he has to stare evil squarely in the eyes. Attorney-client privilege becomes a double-edge sword; one that could cost him his license and endangers the lives of those he cares about. And when he’s embroiled in another case involving Frank and in a hot seat with a detective (Bryan Cranston), he has no other option but dig his way out in this complex conundrum.

McConaughey turns out the most versatile performance in years. Slick with street smart and charm, Mick shows a series of emotions in and out of the courtroom. Adapted from Michael Connelly’s writing, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is a legal puzzle with multiple plot twists that will keep unraveling till the end.

Copyright (c) 2011. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://themoviemaven.posterous.com).

"Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com."

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