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The Lincoln Lawyer

by on March 18, 2011
 

 

“Was it a good movie?”

My litmus test for this ever-present issue is simple: if I am still thinking about a film the day after I saw it, it was in fact a good movie. Not necessarily perfect or Oscar-worthy but, in my eyes, good.

I saw “The Lincoln Lawyer” on a Monday night. Tuesday morning, I was waiting for the bus when I realized: Since I exited the theater the night before, I hadn’t thought about the movie at all.

Therefore, “The Lincoln Lawyer” did not pass my litmus test. That’s not to say the film was completely terrible.

Matthew McConaughey performs predictably to type as Mick, a slickster defense attorney who tools around L.A. in a car with license plates reading “NT GUILTY.” As Mick’s newest client, a wealthy young man who insists he was framed in a prostitute’s attempted murder, Ryan Phillippe’s bland line readings come off as believably cold and sociopathic.

William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo and Michael Pena — who, unlike McConaughey and Phillippe, possess actual range, deliver supporting performances that are hard-boiled, empathetic and humorous. And then there’s this genuinely funny nugget of dialogue: On the witness stand, a cocksure john proclaims, “We made love consensually and pleasurably, the way it should be. And then I paid her.”

Even with these interesting and pleasant elements, “The Lincoln Lawyer” doesn’t stand out as anything special. The story, while not penned by John Grisham, is Grisham 101: renegade attorney finds himself thrown off by evil antagonist who could beat said attorney at his own fast-talking game. McConaughey’s character believes he has seen it all before until he is thrown for a loop. Unfortunately, the audience’s viewing experience stops at “seen it all before.”