Matthew McConaughey gives a career best performance in the powerful and ferociously entertaining screen adaption of author Michael Connelly’s bestselling novel. Side-stepping the melodrama and cliches that are usually abundant in courtroom drama’s, first time director Brad Furman keeps the story moving at a steady clip, while never losing the viewer as he deftly navigates through the tangled narrative. McConaughey is defense attorney Mick Haller, a heavy-drinking, ethically loose man whom is recruited to represent a high-profile socialite in a rape/assault case. As the trial processes Haller becomes gradually unsure of his client’s intentions and background. To speak any more on the plot is precarious, other than to say that the screenplay by John Romano is an efficiently lean piece of storytelling, without a wasted scene.
Shades of Sidney Lumet’s ‘The Verdict’ and Richard Gere’s ‘Primal Fear’ are evident, but don’t take away from the enjoyment of watching quality actors, McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Josh Lucas play at the highest level. Especially impressive is Ryan Phillippe in a somewhat thankless role of the slimy WASP on trial. His scenes with McConaughey in the film’s final act is worth the price of admission.
Director Furman infuses the film with a neo-soul soundtrack compromised of Motown classics and the best hip-hop cuts from the last 25 years. Early television advertisements have made comparisons to this and Mcchonaey’s star making performance in 1996’s ‘A Time to Kill’, however I don’t think the two are in the same league. For my money ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ is a far more ambitious and involving experience, this is one ride you won’t regret taking. The best film of 2011 so far.
Director: Brad Furman
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe
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