By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Based on a popular Michael Connelly novel, the title’s Lincoln lawyer is played by Matthew McConaughey, a slightly sleazy and definitely jaded defense lawyer who’s office is his Lincoln Town Car as he shoots around town from one legal establishment to another.
Things get interesting when he’s approached to defend a millionaire playboy who’s accused of attempting to rape and murder a call-girl.What initially appears to be an open and shut defense quickly turns into anything but, and we embark on a twisty road indeed.
The movie starts with a retro, 70’s style credit sequence following the Lincoln through the streets of L.A., establishing two of the film’s strongest calling cards.Director Brad Furman infuses the film with a cool sense of style that is perfect for both the story and th strengths of its star.
He also shows us a side of the city far from Rodeo Drive that we haven’t seen before, an accomplishment considering the staggering amount of filming done there.A toast is also due to Michael Pena’s performance, which went from frigthtened innocent to hardened prisoner in only a few minutes.Oh, and McConaughey is smooth, smart, and just plain good in a way we haven’t seen in years.
Where this film falls short is the script.The novel it’s based on is apparently even more chock-full of surprises and revelations, and whenever you try to turn a 300 + page-turner into a script you’ll need to cut some things.While I like Marisa Tomei, she’s barely used except for your obligatory sex scene.Cutting her and his family dynamic with his daughter wouldn’t have hurt the movie much if at all and might have prevented the next problem.
Where the movie really drops the ball, and where you should drop a cold one down the hatch, is the end, or rather the ends.
The writer had too much material to work with, but instead of cutting anything he just decided to pack it all in there.The pacing’s fine, if not perfect, for the first two-thirds of the film, and then we’re treated to as many as four possible endings before it’s all over.You can’t help but feel that one more rewrite might have yielded a nearly perfect film.
I’ll be checking out Furman’s next one for sure, but this stylish and gritty 90’s-esque legal thriller is still worth your time.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: whenever Ryan Philippe scowls
Take a drink: every time you think the movie’s over and then something else happens
Drink a shot: whenever Matthew McConaughey takes off his shirt