Based on the first novel in a series by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is about Mickey Haller, a lawyer who gets his nick-name because his office is actually the Lincoln Town Car he is driven around in…although, actually, the movie does a pretty poor job making that clear (there’s a scene in the trailer where his daughter refers to the car as his office, but that part didn’t actually make it into the movie). Anyway, Haller is your typical slick and somewhat sleazy defense attorney, but his morals are put through the ringer when he discovers a client he is representing in an assault charge (Ryan Phillippe) is not only guilty of that crime, but might be responsible for an even more heinous act that a former client of his is currently serving time for. And unfortunately for Haller, he is unable to legally tell anyone about, since he IS the guy’s lawyer. Oh no! I hope he can manage to use all his lawyer tricks to out-think and out-maneuver the bad guy while still technically doing his job!

If there’s a problem with The Lincoln Lawyer, it’s just that – the first act of the movie does such a good job establishing Haller as a tricky guy who can figure out anything that you never really question whether he’ll be able to get out of the pickle he finds himself in. But, still, the story is engaging enough and there a number of great performances (with fine actors like Marissa Tomei, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo putting in supporting leg-work), so I still found myself entertained though-out the movie’s run time.

That seems to be the story of the year – movies like Hanna, Warrior, Drive and this one are proving that predictable, standard-formula stories can still make for great movies in the hands of talented filmmakers and actors. I’m still waiting for a 2011 movie as creative and ground-breaking as something like Inception or Scott Pilgrim (of the films I saw this year, Sucker Punch probably comes closest, but was ultimately too flawed to make the same sort of impact), but in the meantime I’ll gladly watch a dozen more movies like The Lincoln Lawyer, which might not show me anything I haven’t seen before, but are at least made so well that I enjoy them.

I guess I shouldn’t wrap this up without giving Matthew McConaughey his due. Like many others, I’ve had fun mocking the guy a lot in the past, but the truth is McConaughey is a perfectly decent and entertaining actor whenever he’s not making lame romantic comedies where he’s leaning on the poster. Unfortunately, those account for about 80% of his output, which is really too bad, because a movie like The Lincoln Lawyer reminds me of how good he can be in something with substance. I really dug him as this character, and am actually somewhat bummed out to hear that The Lincoln Lawyer is now being developed into an ABC series, as that suggests there probably won’t be any more big-screen entries. It’s too bad, this is a character I would have liked to have seen McConaughey tackle a few more times. But, hey, I liked the movie enough that maybe I’ll give the show a shot, too…as long as they get a good actor for the part.

Hey, Josh Holloway is pretty free at the moment, isn’t he?



This review was originally posted at Trevor Likes Movies on September 25th, 2011.