It’s been a long time since I watched a Matthew McConaughey movie. He’s a versatile and talented actor, but he’s made some awful career decisions of late… Anybody remember Surfer Dude? I sat through the entire 85 minutes. From the beginning to the end. Halfway through it, I found myself wondering whether the weed they were smoking was real! McConaughey’s latest endeavour, The Lincoln Lawyer, is a great courtroom drama that gives the chiselled Texan a chance to shine again.
Directed by relative newcomer Brad Furman (The Take) and boasting an all-star supporting cast, the film spins the tale of Michael “Mickey” Haller (McConaughey), a Los Angeles defence attorney who works from the back of his Lincoln Town Car while trading life lessons with his driver, Earl (Laurence Mason).
The client who could make or break Haller’s career comes in the form of Beverly Hills realtor Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a wealthy playboy accused of raping a prostitute. Haller agrees to defend him, despite his own reservations and the vocal concern of his good friend and private investigator Frank Levin (William H. Macy). But as Roulet’s trial drags on, and the pile of evidence grows, Haller is forced to re-evaluate his client, himself and the justice system.
Haller’s world was created by author Michael Connelly, and John Romano has tapped into the gritty realism of the novels to produce a screenplay with equal suspense. The lead actors take Romano’s razor-sharp dialogue and combine it with strong performances to produce a truly gripping film. McConaughey, in particular, delights in Haller’s pendulum-like moral core and creates a chameleon who is always full of surprises.
Nobody portrays a surly, arrogant rich boy quite like Phillippe, and he transforms Roulet into such a formidable son-of-a-bitch that you may well find yourself shouting at the screen from your popcorn-strewn cinema seat (I did).
Credit must also be given to the fabulous Mr Macy, who effortlessly channels the wry humour and wit of Admiral Jim Sandecker as he embraces the role of sidekick to his Sahara co-star, while Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) gives an interesting dimension to prosecutor Maggie McPherson, Haller’s former lover and the mother of his child. Throw in Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama), John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge) and Frances Fisher (Titanic) in supporting roles and you’ve got a compelling legal drama that will challenge your beliefs about right and wrong.