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Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good TV-caliber plot in a well-acted, well-produced feature film, April 18, 2011
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This review is from: The Lincoln Lawyer (DVD)
The film critics I've read have done an unusually good job discussing The Lincoln Lawyer, as I saw it. I will just hit the main points about the movie, pro and con, that made an impression on me. Overall, I thought the movie was well-acted, well-produced, and entertaining, even if limited by what might be called a good TV-caliber screenplay.

The movie drew me in at the very start when the Lincoln town car of the title and its driver turned out not to be the phony Hollywood glitz I had expected but a seedy image that fit the movie perfectly. (One amateur review's complaint that the car somehow failed to serve its purpose simply because the title character drove around in other vehicles at various points is silly.) The well-acted characters and unusually dingy L.A. settings generally felt authentic, as far as they went. Matthew McConaughey fit naturally, smoothly, and effectively into the lead character of Mick Haller. Haller is a slick, shady L.A. criminal defense lawyer who gets results for his low-life clients, even if things do not always turn out for the best. Haller runs into serious problems, suffers blows from them, does not act always and mindlessly cocky (unlike the annoying, one-note young prosecutor-on-the-make in the movie Fracture), yet draws on enough strength, ingenuity, and resourcefulness that his confidence rarely fails him. This made him fun to watch. Sometimes, he stepped over the line, but not so far as to throw believability to the winds. The story was basically interesting and tied up fairly neatly. In fact, it is quite an accomplishment to make a mystery thriller that was generally this entertaining and satisfying without going completely over the top, the way so many of these kind of movies do (such as The Firm, Final Analysis, Just Cause, Guilty as Sin, General's Daughter, and the Ashley Judd films Double Jeopardy and High Crimes). Lincoln Lawyer was refreshingly free of exploitative, sensational scenes used to gin up cheap shock value, horror, suspense, or titillation.

At the same time, I have to agree with the critics that the movie's story and characters do seem familiar. Although workmanlike, including the courtroom scenes, well-handled by McConaughey, the movie lacked the sparks of imagination, originality, intricacy, and electricity that can sometimes come from films like this. It did not really hit the high notes that make watching not just enjoyable but exciting. The writing, while good, seemed more like a script for a high-quality TV show than theatrical film. And some of the supporting characters, especially Haller's ex-wife and the bail bondsman, were badly under-developed and pasted on, wasting talented actors in nothing or contrived roles. Haller's interactions with his ex-wife were not convincing. Similarly unconvincing was the degree to which he felt a crisis of conscience about the way he represented a past client in light of newly discovered information from representing his current, rich-boy client, accused of trying to beat to death a woman he met at a bar. Haller had more practical and selfish reasons for resolving the current case the way he did, without delving so deeply into soul-searching and noble motives, which seemed ill-suited to the rest of the movie.
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