The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

I’ll be the first to admit that I have an aversion to courtroom dramas. I’m completely disinterested in stories about how wealthy people are able to easily navigate the court system to get away with egregious crimes, and how their wealthy lawyers can sometimes grow a conscience. It’s a tiresome, flagrantly manipulative narrative device that’s designed to get Oscar nominations so the label “Academy Award nominated” can be added to the movie’s promotional materials, irrespective of quality or content. Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I gotta tell you: “The Lincoln Lawyer” is one of the better examples of its dated ilk, with director Brad Furman leaning into the conventions demanded by the movie’s genre by extracting first-rate performances from a solid cast, and adding a vivacious soundtrack to keep things feeling fresh and crisp. Matthew McConaughey is an effective stand-in for the audience, subverting his own movie star charisma by zeroing-in on his character’s moral awakening (not unlike his work in 1996’s “A Time to Kill”) like nothing could matter more, and that ferocious dedication makes the movie feel more prescient than it would have in the hands of a lesser leading man. The supporting cast reads like a who’s who of top-tier character actors, but it’s Michael Pena who walks away with the movie’s best performance with just two scenes that could peel the paint off the walls. So, ultimately if you’re into these types of movies (which clearly I’m not) you’ll absolutely love this one because it’s admittedly very well-made.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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