Lionsgate // 2011 // 119 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 4th, 2011
Who's up for a legal thriller? It seems like it has been some time since we've gotten a bang-on big-screen courtroom drama. The Lincoln Lawyer is here to serve you.
Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey, Fool's Gold) is the Lincoln lawyer. A successful, hot-shot defense attorney, Haller has crafted a career out of the back of his Lincoln, which, thanks to the spread-out geography of the LA court system, has become his mobile office.
His latest gig is a lucrative one: a wealthy kid (Ryan Phillippe, Flags of Our Fathers) has been arrested for rape and assault and he insists he's been framed. Haller jumps all over it, rakes in the cash...and eventually discovers that there's a whole lot more this guy isn't telling him and the consequences of these secrets can be lethal.
You know what The Lincoln Lawyer feels like? Old school. I have a difficult time putting my finger on why I feel that way, but it just seems we don't get a lot of movies like these out of the studios these days. There are no visual effects, no bombast, no 3D gimmicks. It's just an actor and a story cleverly told.
The film is based on the book of the same name from the prolific crime novelist Michael Connelly, a guy who I peg as one of the best out there now writing the genre. I'm familiar with the Haller character in written form, so I went into this generally educated about the world.
Credit to McConaughey for bringing this guy to life. He's the most important element of the film as the events in the mystery are given weight because of how they pivot on Haller's axis. McConaughey relates in the making-of documentary that he had interest in the project years ago and I'm grateful that the producers waited to pull the trigger before getting him on board. He really is electric here, further bolstering his impressive portfolio of attorney roles; he's got that way of being slick and in command and approachable without coming across as a douchebag -- vital ingredients to pulling the Haller character off.
Though he's the central figure, he wouldn't be served well with a milquetoast plot and the good news is the serpentine tale is compelling enough to deserve McConaughey's performance. There is some risk here as a major reveal is unveiled two-thirds the way in. The tension then flows from how Haller navigates an impossible position, and though we may be deprived of a neck-twisting Primal Fear-like twist, the thrills are still potent and the payoff is rewarding.
The Lionsgate high-def treatment is a winner. The 2.35:1, 1080p transfer is high-end, pushing out the sun-drenched, stylized LA landscape powerfully and cleanly. The color saturation is potent, with many of exterior scenes receiving a golden tint that adds and the courtroom settings coming away as cooler and detail-heavy. It's a great piece of visual fidelity. And look, a 7.1 mix! I thought those were extinct. Good to see one in the wild and Lionsgate has tuned it to be an aggressive, crisp mix. Extras are headlined by three HD featurettes: "Making the Case," an overall making-of documentary, "At Home on the Road," a tour of LA with Michael Connelly and "One on One," an interview of McConaughey conducted by Connelly. A handful of deleted scenes and DVD and Digital Copy versions of the film round it out.
Add this taut, well-acted thriller to your docket. Solid Blu-ray, too.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* Cinema Verdict Review