The Lincoln Lawyer is a perfectly average legal drama. I trust that the book is exactly like this, totally programmed to hit standard beats in the plot. It’ll serve its purpose in theaters just like a paperback novel does.
Michael Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a lawyer working out of his car, a Lincoln Continental. He’s so slick and smooth talking, he gets a judge to give him an extension while he waits for a client to extend his retainer. Then he goads the client for money for an expert witness, when he really already has the witness in hand.
You learn just enough about Haller to like him, which is the standard cliché. He takes care of his chauffeur, keeping him employed even after he got his own driver’s license back. He has a daughter with prosecutor Maggie (Marisa Tomei), and the only reason they broke up is because they’re on different sides of the court.
The real case is Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), a rich boy accused of beating lady of the night Reggie Campo (Margarita Levieva). Louis is hard to like because he’s so privileged and frequently uses an ignorant epithet for gays. Of course, the case isn’t simply he said/she said so Haller’s values are tested.
The point of the movie is to take Haller from a guy so smooth he doesn’t even need an office to a haggard, disheveled wreck. In the beginning, he manipulates the media and the D.A. but Louis really turns the tables on Haller. If you want to see McConaughey sweat, this is the movie for you.
Haller still does a good job for Louis. He baits prosecutor Ted Minton (Josh Lucas) into revealing an attack on Louis’ mother, so the jury ends up sympathizing. We knew about the attack but how it comes up in trial is skillful lawyering. Also Lucas and McConaughey engage in a drawl off.
The plot is smug and contrived. Everything works out neatly but the film moves through the plot briskly. The courtroom scenes really have no personality. There’s no political agenda or flair like on “Boston Legal.” Even the one-liners like Corliss the snitch’s (Shea Whigham) comments on the stand or Val Valenzuela’s (John Leguizamo) research comments are not funny. The audience sort of laughs because it’s the right time, but they’re not funny.
I thin The Lincoln Lawyer should represent the Fast and the Furious gang. He’s on the road, they’re on the run, can he get them out of trouble? That’s a movie I would see.