June 28, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer (USA 2011)

It's not a coincidence that the main character drives of this film drives an old car (the "Lincoln" of the title) and not a shiny new one - the film is almost as old-fashioned as the car. It seems to be straight out of the 90s - the golden age of John Grisham adaptations. It might have more fun and less realism than those mostly deadly serious films but the parallels can't be neglected and Matthew McConaughey's role of an idealistic lawyer is quite similar to the one that made him famous in 1996's "A Time To Kill". The sad thing is that he hasn't had a lot of roles worth mentioning in between. Maybe the ex law student should stick to playing lawyers in the future...

But if he did that, he probably would get even less roles because let's not forget that a lot has changed in those 15 years. Back then, films like that were produced by the major studios whereas now "The Lincoln Lawyer" is produced by the semi-independent mini-studio Lions Gate. The studios have shifted their attention away from the intelligent, actor-driven, so called "quality" entertainment to a few tentpoles and big-budget spectacles. So in a way it is quite refreshing to have a movie focused on values such as characters and story and one that does not insult the intelligence of the audience.

But here is where the problems start because unfortunately it is not as smart as it would like to be. What's even worse is that it soon becomes too predictable. One example: if Ryan Philippe plays the arrogant rich kid accused of murder and Michael Pena the poor Latino kid, who of the two do you think is innocent? And do you really think he could get away with it in a Hollywood movie beset by traditional morals? Stereotypes like that are the reason the film ultimately falls a little flat.

Nevertheless "The Lincoln Lawyer" is certainly watchable: It has a good cast with Matthew McConaughey as probably one of the coolest lawyers in film history, some entertaining court scenes and a few good twists but the overall verdict is still: guilty of sticking to the Hollywood formula.


L.A. Cool: Matthew McConaughey as "The Lincoln Lawyer"

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