Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

Every once in a while, an actor will star in a movie (typically produce it on their own) where they basically try to win an Oscar. Pollock by Ed Harris, Moneyball for Brad Pitt – and while sometimes it’s genuinely deserved a lot of the times it’s more of a stark reminder as to how insulated people in Hollywood are to the realities of their own stardom. And with that, let’s start talking about the last Matthew McConaghuey movie I saw: The Lincoln Lawyer.

Immediately, delving into the plot would be like giving away the whole thing because it’s essentially given away at the beginning of the movie. At least, I guessed “who dun it” almost as soon as the character was introduced. It shouldn’t really be that hard. Look for the sweetest person on the “bad guy” side and there’s your head honcho. Everything in this movie is so obvious; every observation with characters is forced with all cards facing the audience. It’s just absurd to share memories of your daughter with your ex-wife like you just met the bitch. It just doesn’t make sense that old friends would rehash their entire lives within the first 5 minutes of hanging out on a regular day. Things don’t work that way and for a movie to try and be this gritty depiction of seedy lawyer underhandedness is just laughable. But it’s really not that realistic of a depiction, it’s really just a showcase for Matthew McConaughey to look a little sweaty and hot as he’s chauffeured around in a Lincoln towncar (hence the title – no fucking joke). So let’s get on with it.

Ignoring the racial implications that one of the only black (and minority) characters in the film is, after all, the chauffeur, the movie sticks with what everyone knows. Rich kids are punks. Unrepentant rich white kids are the devil. And their parents are worse. Essentially, the Cadillac lawyer is hired by a rich family because the son (Ryan Phillippe) might have raped a hooker. Might have. It’s basically given away in his introduction that he probably did rape her. Oh Ryan Phillippe. You have had the largest fall from grace from your auspicious ass debut in Cruel Intentions. I would almost hope that you’re better than this (as Marisa Tomei has proved time and time again) but are you?

Right off the bat, and confirmed through to the end of the movie, the best part about this movie is, of course, Marisa Tomei. She plays the Buick lawyer’s wife and (gasp) she’s a prosecutor. He’s a defense attorney. OMG DO YOU GET IT?! I SMELL A SITCOM. This is also why they got divorced. She couldn’t reconcile that he defended criminals as his day job. Who wrote this? Who thought this was a good justification for a divorce? I know we don’t live in the most enlightened of times and people have quickie weddings and divorces – but for a couple to seem truly in love (surprise surprise they end up back together) and for them to get divorced over something so…trivial and trite seems to be untrue to their characters.

But there are no characters. Everything is as obvious as the orange fake tan glow on Matthew McConaughey’s skin. The majority of the movie is littered with just a hodge podge of blatant caricatures masquerading as characters. There’s a gay guy, the homophobe, the evil mom, the crazy monster, the victimized minority, the righteous defender. It’s all very been there, done that.

The film climaxes in court (of course – lawyer is in the title – where else could it climax) in what is probably the tackiest courtroom in history. Oldsmobile gives an impassioned speech about client/lawyer privilege. That is essentially all this movie is about. Client. Attorney. Privilege. It’s like Primal Fear without any mystery or nuance. I’m not really expecting much from a Matthew McConaughey movie but sometimes you just want to say something nice. His teeth were very white in the movie.

**/****

[The Lincoln Lawyer is Rated R for some violence, sexual content, and language. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillipe, and William H. Macy. Directed by Brad Furman and written by John Romano based off the novel(!!) by Michael Connelly.]



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