Film Review: THE LINCOLN LAWYER (2011), Starring Matthew McConaughey

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Matthew McConaughey stars in THE LINCOLN LAWYER (2011) [image source:

The Bottom Line: “You’re nobody ’til somebody shoots you.”

FRISCO KID’s rating: 4 stars

THE LINCOLN LAWYER (2011)Production: Sidney KimmelGary LucchesiTom RosenbergScott SteindorffRichard S. Wright

Direction: Brad Furman

Screenwriting:  John Romano (screenplay), Michael Connelly (novel)

Cinematography: Lukas Ettlin

Starring: Matthew McConaugheyMarisa TomeiRyan PhillippeWilliam H. MacyJohn Leguizamo

Intro: A while ago, I semi-panned Killer Joe, another recent film starring McConaughey. The Lincoln Lawyer, however, is a different matter.

Plot Summary: Mickey Haller (McConaughey) is a criminal defense lawyer who works in Los Angeles County. Working out of a Lincoln Town Car driven by Earl (Laurence Mason), a former client who is working off his legal fees, Haller usually represents motorcycle gang members, prostitutes, and other underworld characters. His preferred bail bondsman, Val Valenzuela (Leguizamo) refers him an unusually high profile client: Louis Roulet (Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy and son of real estate mogul Mary Windsor (Frances Fisher), who is accused of the brutal beating of a prostitute, Reggie Campo (Margarita Levieva). But the seemingly slam-dunk case gradually develops into a deadly game of survival for Haller after he begins to doubt his client’s innocence.

Commentary: As I wrote in a previous post, it’s interesting to look at Matthew McConaughey’s films prior to Dallas Buyers Club, for which he is in the running for an Oscar. Although I didn’t think much of Killer Joe, I did appreciate McConaughey’s acting in the title role. Although the story line of The Lincoln Lawyer is not any less cliched than Killer Joe‘s, I think that it works better. Part of this difference is due to the acting talent. In The Lincoln Lawyer, McConaughey works with a great supporting cast. He has good chemistry with Marisa Tomei, who plays Maggie McPherson, an assistant DA who is also Mickey’s ex. William H. Macy and John Leguizamo are convincing as Frank Levin (Mickey’s investigator) and Val. However, it is the actors who play the motorcycle gang members (especially Trace Adkins as Eddie Vogel) who made me like the movie. In two scenes that involve pulling over Mickey’s Lincoln in order to parlez, they provide the comic relief that prevents the overall crime drama from becoming too melodramatic. They are also an important plot device for the thriller aspect of the movie. Although this movie is not the vehicle for demonstrating acting genius that Dallas Buyers Club provides, McConaughey himself turns in a good performance as well. All in all, it’s a film worth seeing.

Film Facts (from IMDB):

  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Sound Mix: SDDS, Dolby Digital, DTS
  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1