film review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

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The Lincoln Lawyer poster Matthew McConaughyI have to admit, up until I saw the trailer in the cinema a week and a half ago, I thought The Lincoln Lawyer had something to do with Abraham Lincoln. I think I was getting it mixed up with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Obviously enough, the trailer corrected that misconception… What can I say, I’m not a huge follower of Matthew McConaughy’s career.

I still wasn’t interested though until I heard that it was 100% positive on Rotten Tomatoes after 37 reviews. Now that are over 100 reviews on RT it’s down to 83% or so but still, it’s a good score for a guy who hasn’t played a proper dramatic lead in a good few years. And it looked like a good supporting cast – Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy and John Leguizamo – so I thought, yeah ok, I’ll bite. Off to the cinema with me! Err, straight from the other cinema I’d spent the morning in…

I can’t say I’m particularly glad I went along. It’s not a bad film. It’s a perfectly serviceable film. There’s just really nothing special about it. It’s pretty much like watching a good episode of Law & Order or Cold Case, with a sprig of Criminal Minds. If I had to pick one I’d say it’s most like Law & Order: Criminal Intent. And I love those shows, they’re pretty much all I watch these days… but we’re really only talking a good episode. Not a great episode… just a good one.

I’m not familiar with the book but my guess is that Brad Furman and screenwriter John Romano did a decent job. Plus, apparently the author was very happy with it, so that’s some endorsement. The reason I say it was probably a decent job is that, personally, I think it manages to keep it all together. There are some of the usual investigative twists and turns you’d expect in this kind of tv show film but it’s all handled admirably well.

The performance level is at where you’d expect it. Matthew McConaughey is sufficiently charming to make us get on board with a, let’s be honest, pretty slimy lawyer. William H. Macy is, of course, great – and sporting an alarming large shock of hair, but it suits him so that’s cool. John Leguizamo works. Ryan Phillippe… pretty much plays the character I always seem to see him playing. He does it well. He’s had the practice. The only person I thought was a bit out of place was Marisa Tomei. I imagine her role is a bit larger in the book but I presume they eschewed full personal life story as a way to keep the film at a relatively brisk pace. Still, she was believable, I thought.

I’ll give it this, I did think the style of the film was a notch above the usual. As in it looked better than more TV shows, it had that whole retro thing going on. I can’t remember if it was meant to be set in current times, I think so, but either way, it looked retro. And cool. And of course, it had a great car. Great car.

The bottom line is, this is a decent film. It’s reasonably entertaining. Like all those procedural dramas I mentioned earlier, it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time. But I can’t really say much better about it. If you have two hours to spend you could do worse… (Hardly a ringing endorsement I know.) Or you could, of course, just stay at home and watch two hours of Universal Channel instead.


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