The Lincoln Lawyer: NT Guilty (2011)

Posted: October 29, 2011 in Crime, Drama, Thriller

There is no better lawyer who works out of his Lincoln Town Car than Mick Haller. Handling the defense of many of the city’s underbelly, Mick has a team of connections and investigators at his disposal. When a case gets dropped in his lap regarding a wealthy man accused of assault, he thinks he sees an innocent man. The further the investigation goes, the most convoluted it appears. Mick seems to also be haunted by his past, which involved an innocent man getting put away. His client, Louis Roulet, begins to take stronger control of the case and pushes Mick to the limit of stress and emotional distress. While normally confident and cocky, Mick cannot seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel and believes his integrity may be destroyed depending on the decisions he makes regarding Roulet’s defense.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey (Mick Haller), Marisa Tomei (Maggie McPherson), Ryan Phillippe (Louis Roulet), William H. Macy (Frank Levin), Josh Lucas (Ted Minton), John Leguizamo (Val Valenzuela), Michael Pena (Jesus Martinez), Bob Gunton (Cecil Dobbs), Frances Fisher (Mary Windsor), Bryan Cranston (Detective Lankford), Laurence Mason (Earl)

Matthew McConaughey leads this cast with a more serious version of his typical confident persona. It actually works quite well for this film, matching the confidence of his character while allowing for that same confidence to be broken as his perceptions become challenged. There are some times he comes off as fake, particularly around the more dangerous moments of the film. There is a perception that nothing can break him but he gets challenged by threats to his life and the loss of a close friend. As his close ex-wife, Marisa Tomei has a refreshing attitude but gets lost as a peripheral character. William H. Macy has a very friendly personality, which is actually a little strange for a private investigator. Ryan Philippe does a great job starting the film with a sense innocence but slowly opens himself up to greater levels of depravity and evil.

Director Brad Furman adapted this novel into a feature film, portraying the reflection of sleazy lawyer in the midst of a challenging case. While Mick is represented as having connections in the lowest of places and defending individuals who are responsible for committing criminal actions, there is a sense that he actually cares about doing the right thing. It may be well hidden with the way he does business, but the movie does a good job with projecting his recognition of the Roulet family’s dark history.

There are a few issues with the story though. Mick always seems to have everything in hand, or at least seems to figure things out quickly. While the Roulets clearly throw money at things to solve their problems, they also seem to get their hands dirty. Somehow, Mick does not seem to make the full connection for quite a while, nor does he appear to have his plan figured out when he goes back into the courtroom the day after Frank Levin’s death. While knowing Mick’s issues with anger and his past violent actions, he also does not seem to recognize the potential dangers of Mary Windsor (Louis’s mother) and rather believes her to be ignorant of her son’s behavior. Mick’s confidence in his ability to protect himself also seems a little farfetched. At some point, wouldn’t the biker gang get caught?

While this film is marked as a thriller, there are not many moments that truly make it fit the thriller theme. When they do arise, they are major but quick at the same time (i.e. the death of Frank Levin or the break-in at Mick’s house). With Mick getting portrayed as a step ahead of the game and close to fearless, those thrilling moments lose a lot of their momentum. In addition, that same confidence that makes McConaughey portray Mick so well complicates the audience’s ability to make a better connection with him.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a good story and an interesting film. Though flawed in its presentation, McConaughey gives a solid performance and helps to contribute to some interesting twists and turns in this complicated legal case.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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