March 21, 2011

MOVIES: The Lincoln Lawyer (Brad Furman, 2011)

I've never read any of Michael Connelly's novels, so I can't speak to how faithful an adaptation The Lincoln Lawyer is. But as a movie, it's a reasonably good legal drama.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Mick Heller (yes, I know that in the books, it's Mickey), a Los Angeles lawyer who scrapes by with a few regular lowlife clients (a pot-growing gang of bikers chief among them). He's not the first lawyer that would come to mind for Los Angeles' upper crust, so it's rather a surprise when his services are requested by Louis Roulet (Ryan Philippe), son of a wealthy family who's been accused with the rape and beating of a prostitute. Louis claims he's innocent, and the police report would seem to back him up, but there is (surprise, surprise) more to the story than meets the eye.

There's a fine supporting cast -- William H. Macy as Mick's investigator, Marisa Tomei as his ex-wife (who is, of course, a prosecutor), Frances Fisher as Louis's mother, Michael Pena as a former client, Bob Gunton as Louis's snooty family lawyer. And in smaller roles, you've got John Leguizamo, Trace Adkins, Bryan Cranston, and Josh Lucas.

McConaughey's still not a great actor, but his natural cockiness serves him well in this role, and he's surrounded by actors who have the talent to make him look his best. The story goes through the obligatory twists and turns, some of which you'll see coming a mile away, but it moves along at a brisk pace and the cast is sharp enough to keep the predictability from getting too irritating.

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