Review: The Lincoln Lawyer DVD

The Lincoln Lawyer DVDSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Brad Furman | CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Maris Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher, Bob Gunton, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy, Michael Peña
7/12/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Back $39.99, DVD $26.98
featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes
R | 119 min. | Crime thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Lincoln Lawyer gives audiences an opportunity to take Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused) a little more seriously than they have in recent years, just like they did when he portrayed lawyers in such films as A Time to Kill (1996) and Amistad (1997). Not that McConaughey didn’t look like he was having a good time when he took off his shirt in romantic comedies Fool’s Gold (2008) and the admittedly funny Surfer, Dude (2008), but I’m not sure the public was enjoying his movies as much as he was.

The LIncoln Lawyer movie scene

Matthew McConaughey gets legal in The Lincoln Lawyer.

That said, The Lincoln Lawyer is a step in the right direction. It stars McConaughey as a Los Angeles defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his chauffeured Lincoln Town Car, going to bat for bikers, hookers, junkies and other almost-bad guys.

A knowledgeable, street-wise lawyer who lives a comfortable life via taking on seamier, cash-friendly cases that he knows he can handle, McConaughey’s Mick Haller hasn’t lost his drive or spirit for the law as much as he’s figured out a way to take a detour around the heavy stuff. That all changes when he agrees to defend a Beverly Hills rich guy (Ryan Phillippe, The Bang Bang Club) accused of the rape and attempted murder of a prostitute. Cue a well-charted course of plot twists and surprises (some good, some predictable) served up by pros, and you’ve got a solid crime/legal thriller fronted by a guy who has the chops to hold the story together, while still looking as good in a well-tailored suit as he does in a bathing suit.

McConaughey and the movie get a lot of help from their collaborators. Brad Furman’s direction is fast and tasty, as is John Romano’s script, which he adapted from Michael Connelly’s 2005 best-selling novel. Lukas Ettlin’s rich cinematography features a lot of handheld work, which keeps things moving and just off-balance enough to underline the increasingly shaky legal proceedings, which frequently involve the ethically tricky area of client-lawyer confidentiality.

Lending ample support is an outstanding roster of co-stars, including William H. Macy (Pleasantville), Josh Lucas (Daydream Nation), Michael Peña (My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done), Bryan Cranston (TV’s Breaking Bad) and Marisa Tomei (Cyrus) as McConaughey’s ex-wife. And Phillippe is genuinely creepy as a playboy who might just be as clever as his lawyer.

Bonus features on the DVD include a pair of featurettes, the first of which delves into the film’s development and production. The second finds author Connelly driving around L.A. talking about his work and giving a special shout-out to filmmaker Robert Altman (3 Women), whose 1973 neo-noir The Long Goodbye was a major inspirational for Connelly’s growth as a writer.

There’s also a collection of deleted scenes and a brief on-set conversation between Connelly and McConaughey.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.