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2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Lincoln Lawyer, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"“Picture This Movie. Now Imagine It Is A Good One”"
2 stars

By one of those strange examples of moviegoing kismet that occur from time to time, I found myself watching “The Lincoln Lawyer” and “Rango” back to back one recent afternoon. One of the films was a borderline ridiculous cartoon featuring implausible characters saying and doing things that were so patently silly that they invoked no small amount of laughter while the other one featured Johnny Depp as the voice of an oddball lizard looking for his place in the world. Yes, I realize that the above joke was weak, hackneyed and far too predictable for its own good but I figured that it was only appropriate because “The Lincoln Lawyer” is itself weak, hackneyed and far too predictable for its own good--a slice of sub-Grisham silliness that offers nothing that even the most casual consumers of legal thrillers haven’t seen a dozen times before, wastes the talents of a number of good actors who unaccountably signed on to the project and gets so ludicrous at certain points that it inspires more laughs than most recent comedies that I can recall seeing.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Mick Haller, a slick-talking, hard-drinking and presumably two-fisted defense attorney who, for reasons that are only vaguely explained and then never really exploited to any particular purpose, conducts his business from the backseat of a vintage Lincoln Continental as he bounces between his various cases, most of which involve scary-but-good-hearted bikers and scary-but-good-hearted hookers. One day, a bail bondsman (John Leguizamo) puts him in contact with a client with a much higher profile than he is used to handling. This would be Louis Roulet (Ryan Philippe), a trust fund baby from Beverly Hills who has been accused of raping, beating and nearly murdering a prostitute. Naturally, Louis insists that he is innocent and that he was the victim of a set-up involving the prostitute and her boyfriend and even though Mick is somewhat surprised to learn that Louis wants to go to trial as quickly as possible, he decides to take on Louis’ case. Of course, nothing is as cut-and-dried as it seems and when Mick’s investigator (William H. Macy) begins to look into Louis’ case, he discovers some unusual connections between it and a previous case that Mick handled.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” is based on a novel by Michael Connelly, one of those writers whose books are often seen being read by people on long airplane trips, presumably because the combination of deathful prose and overly labyrinth plotting is enough to distract them from thinking that the bucket of bolts they are currently encased in could crash and burn quicker than you can say Jack Robinson Having not read this particular book, I cannot attest to how faithful it is to the source material but if I had to guess, I would say that it is faithful to a fault. Since the story is essentially a potboiler that has no greater ambition than to serve up mid-level legal thrills to undiscriminating audiences who have been bemoaning the lack of recent film adaptations of the works of John Grisham, it really needs to move quickly and cleanly so that the story never gets bogged down in extraneous details and viewers never get a chance to recognize the numerous plot holes until the movie is over and they are long gone.

Alas, it feels as if screenwriter John Romano has tried to cram as much of the book into his adaptation as possible and the result is an unwieldy work featuring too many characters, too many subplots, too many endings (each one sillier than the last) and a running time that extends maybe a half-hour longer than the material really deserves. The biggest victim here is Marisa Tomei, an actress who generally lights up the screen whenever she makes an appearance (hell, she even briefly gave life to the odious likes of “Wild Hogs” once upon a time) but who literally has nothing of note to do here other than serve as the film’s designated driver. All I can hope is that she signed on for this before getting nominated for the Oscar for “The Wrestler” and that better parts for her are on the horizon.

What really kills “The Lincoln Lawyer” is the utter lack of originality that permeates every scene. I realize that stories like this tend to follow a certain formula and a certain pleasure can be derived from seeing those moments play out in interesting ways. However, the film trots out those clichés and then simply deploys them in the most predictable ways imaginable and they get so ridiculous after a while that it begins to feel like an exceptionally straight-faced parody of the entire genre. By the time it finally ends, with a mass of extremely lumpy exposition, numerous twists and reversals and maybe three or four separate climaxes, I was half-expecting Leslie Nielsen to pop up for a couple of minutes. In what I can only assume was an attempt to deflect viewers from recognizing just how predictable the proceedings truly are, director Brad Furman handles it with a wild visual style that I suppose is sort of interesting on a purely superficial level for a little while. However, it doesn’t help matters much and in the end, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is nothing more than a silly and wheezy time-waster that feels so familiar that it should have been released with the TBS commercial breaks already added in to save time and effort.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21369&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/18/11 12:04:36
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User Comments

9/17/15 Jeff WIlder Not bad legal thriller. 4 stars
9/15/11 Monday Morning Its a Town Car, not a Continental. 3 stars
6/10/11 Langano Decent flick. 3 stars
5/04/11 damalc i love the scenes with Michael Pena 4 stars
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  18-Mar-2011 (R)
  DVD: 12-Jul-2011

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  DVD: 12-Jul-2011

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