The Lincoln Lawyer *** (out of ****)

Director: Brad Furman
Writers: John Romano screenplay based on the novel by Michael Connelly
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Brian Philippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Lawrence Mason, Michael Pena, John Legiuzamo, Bob Gunton, Francis Fisher
Rating: R (some violence, sexual content and language)
Running Time: 118 min
Release Date: 3/18/10

The Lincoln Lawyer is a film that centers on Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) a criminal defense attorney who travels around LA to his various is court appearances and other appointments in a Lincoln limousine. This personalized license plate NTGUILTY seems a well earned. He can get them all acquitted but at least he get them a greatly reduced sentence. The clients include drug dealing motorcycle gangs, prostitutes, and the occasional true cash cow: a wealthy defendant. Because of an unstated traffic offense, presumably a DUI given his appetite for liquor, he hired a chauffeur (Lawrence Mason) to drive him around.

The film touches on a variety of issues associated with our criminal justice system. These involve the ethics of the criminal defense bar, the tactics occasionally employed by prosecution, the differences in the treatment of rich and poor, and how the various players deal with this. As such the film covers little new ground. But then it isn't really expected to either.

One day in the midst of his typical legal machinations, Mick gets a dream client Lewis Roulet (Brian Philippe), whose parents are very wealthy. In addition Lewis steadfastly claims his innocence and insists he won't plea bargain. That means lots of money for Mick. Lewis who is charged with the rape and beating of a young woman he met at a bar.

Mick is able to get his client out on bail in spite of the prosecutions claims of the flight risk threat. But the investigation go forward his investigation led by Frank, his ex-policeman P.I. (William H. Macy), facts emerge which at times tend to support Lewis’s innocence. The woman was a prostitute who is associated with a potential accomplice in a purported set up. On the other hand the woman's blood was found on Lewis’s knife. But then one day Mick compares photographs of the injured woman the photographs of a murder victim of client once defended. And without revealing too much, this sets the film's plot that totally different direction.

The parallel thread in this film's plot is a relationship with prosecution attorney and ex-wife Maggie (Marisa Tomei). Although their marriage is over it seems that their relationship isn't. Maggie has serious emotional problems with Mick's defense of the scum of the earth regardless of their constitutional rights to legal representation.

The Lincoln lawyer while not a great film is a solid piece of work. McConaughey, Tomei and Macy bring a very natural portrayal of their characters. If you like movies about lawyers, criminal investigations, and court room action then this one will fit the bill.

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