Overlooked Film of the Week- #74
The Lincoln Lawyer
There was a long period of time when Matthew McConaughey was an actor I respected more than I liked. I found him charming in his roles and I could understand why peopled liked him, but the films he chose to star in were real head scratchers. McConaughey respeatedly put himself in sappy soap operas and cringe-worthy romantic comedies. It seemed that this career would never be salvaged, it seemed McConaughey would always be an actor full of potential, but no drive to become better, bigger or respectable. Then as the 2010's hit, it seemed that a new life was breathed into his career, coming like a breathe of fresh air. It is popularly being referred to as "The McConaissance" because it literally feels like a rebirth. He's still charming, he's still handsome, and he's still popular, but it seems like he is beginning to take his career seriously, not worrying about branching out.
I always that "The Lincoln Lawyer" was the beginning of "The McConaissance," the movie that started McConaughey on the beaten path to righteousness. It was the movie allowed McConaughey to become the actor he was always supposed to become. "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a fierce thriller, the type of movie I feel we don't see enough of these days. There is something about the courtroom drama that I find myself gravitating to. Maybe I like the way they feel like stage-plays with wonderful ensembles, maybe I like how much extreme tension can be created in a room, or maybe its because I have always enjoyed cops-and-robber stories, no matter how much they vary. No matter what, I find "The Lincoln Lawyer" to be a modern classic, yet another shining example of why 2011 was one of the decade's best film years thus far. The only mistake I can think of is, in a world of sequels and franchises, I can't believe a sequel to "The Lincoln Lawyer" hasn't been at least discussed yet.
Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Haller, a quick-witted, somewhat cocky defense lawyer who specializes in criminal defense. It can be said that Haller maybe slightly corrupt as well, telling from the opening scene as Haller does business with a biker gang. (The gang is actually led by country music star Trace Adkins.) Suddenly, a high-profile case lands on his lap. Haller is hired by Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) a Beverly Hills playboy whose mother is a famous estate mogule (Frances Fisher). Louis Roulet is being charged with the beating of a prostitute. While this is not Haller's typical M.O., he takes the case. The case reminds Haller of another case which put an old client (Michael Pena) wrongfully in prison. Haller soon finds out that Roulet may not be who he seems and this could possibly put Haller in danger.
"The Lincoln Lawyer" could be describe as a neo-noir. Haller may not be a hard-boiled detective, but there is no arguing that Haller is a troubled man from a past case that went wrong. He feels bad for his old client and he must try to set things right. There are no femme fatales in this movie, but there are enough double-crossings and twists to make any fan of film noir happy. The film definitely works as acute courtroom drama. I think McConaughey does outstanding work as Haller, and is easily the most human performance McConaughey has ever portrayed. I also like the work done by Phillippe, Fisher and Pena; all of whom do strong work.
The movie features an all-star cast, which includes Josh Lucas, Maris Tomei, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo and Shea Whigham. If that supporting cast doesn't make you raise an eyebrow in delight, I am not sure what will. This cast, mixed with Cliff Martinez' pulsing soundtrack and Lukas Ettlin's bright cinematography, is a dense new thriller. Enjoy your cinematic rebirth, Mr. McConaughey, this was only the beginning.