“The Lincoln Lawyer” feels like a throwback. It echoes an era when courtroom procedurals featured anti-heroes and more turns than a twisted mountain road and to a time when its star Matthew McConaughey made good movies.
Based on a novel by American crime writer Michael Connelly, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is the story of Mickey Haller (McConaughey), a wheeling dealing L.A. criminal defense attorney who works out of the back of a Lincoln sedan with the vanity plate NTGUILTY. He’s a bottom-feeder who values money more than ethics until he takes a case involving a dead prostitute, a head strong client, a legal conundrum and his very survival—both personally and professionally.
The first fifteen minutes of “The Lincoln Lawyer” aren’t all that promising. McConaughey appears to be less a character than a collection of charming tics; the kind of work he’s spent the last few years doing in forgettable films like “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and “Fools Gold.” At least he doesn’t resort to taking his shirt off, which, while pleasing to some, is the cheapest way for him to fill the screen.
The winning smile and movie star charm, however, begin to fade as McConaughey drops the smarm and actually begins to explore the character and the story’s twists and turns. The deeper we get into the story the more entertaining and edge of your seat it becomes leading up to a surprising ending.
“The Lincoln Lawyer” will remind you of “Primal Fear” and feels like something that might be more at home on cable TV than on the big screen, but it is a well written, edgy drama with good performances and a welcome return to form from McConaughey.