Review: Sky's The Limit With Foul Play When 'The Lincoln Lawyer' Is On Your Side
March 17th, 2011 2:38pm EDT
It’s been a while since we’ve seen an ensemble cast that actually worked well together. Throwing around big names and casting them in a film might seem easy on paper, but the question always remains as to who are those tough enough to bite-the-bait and stand firm on screen? I mean, think about it, the last time [ I ] think [ I ] visually came across an ensemble cast that worked well together had to be in ‘THE DEPARTED’ (2006). Remember that flick? Remember the power-houses running around throughout the story? Damn! If there’s been another, please jot it down in the comment box, otherwise, on my end, ‘THE DEPARTED’ stands on its own movie-based pedestal when displaying a well produced film with pretty much all of Hollywood’s MEAT! And, well, perhaps some might be saying to themselves “Well, we had ‘THE EXPENDABLES’ last year (2010) and that movie has a huge cast.” Truth be told, yes, the film has a cast of MEAT, but I say this to all you who are sitting there thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about… In Hollywood you have movie stars and you have actors! A movie star is someone who looks good on camera, has an “it factor” and will guarantee an audience (Cast of ‘THE EXPENDABLES’), versus actors who can actually act and hijack our attention-span for a bit, while taking us (a/k/a you) into their world, story and character existence (Cast of ‘THE DEPARTED’). Hit up both flicks and analyze what I’ve just typed!
Moving along to the year 2011 and we have ‘THE LINCOLN LAWYER.’ The film’s cast may not seem like one that most would consider an “ensemble,” however; in my eyes (more important than yours) it is and this is why: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher, Josh Lucas AND Michael Pena. How do you like them apples?! And kudos to Director Brad Furman for having been able to obtain this team, as well as serving as their coach in an adapted film off a best-selling novel by Michael Connelly. Tangled in a web of artistic complexities, ‘THE LINCOLN LAWYER’ delivers a well crafted piece which involves all that would entail a “Legal Thriller” without a shirtless McConaughey! (Thank “God”)
Mick Haller (McConaughey) makes being a lawyer look smooth and cool as he conducts business in his Lincoln Continental Town Car rather than an actual furnished office, while providing LA’s society straight-forward legal representation. His style is as suave as my pick-up lines when enamored, and when executed, Haller’s borderline unethical, shrewd and calculated moves are untouchable and I loved every minute of it. He’s acquired well-rounded smarts of the inner workings of the LA legal system and delivers flawlessly, however, tested when: One, finding out an ex client Jesus Martinez (Pena) who's been jailed for 2 years, is innocent. (He didn't believe Martinez when he said he wasn't guilty so Mick got him to take a plea, so now Mick won't stop until he gets Martinez out.) Two, when a local bail bondsman (Leguizamo) drops a case in his lap. Mick loves it and thrives on defending a rich socialite (Phillippe) who’s accused of attempted murder, which includes raping and beating a hooker. Despite the power and money from the family, Mick’s in control & calls ALL the shots. In other words, my friends… It’s Mick’s way or the highway. (No Pun)
The story’s darkness elevates every minute and brings a concrete look into courtroom dramas. The grittiness makes you feel like you’re in on all that’s transpiring and the flow keeps popping from one scene to the next. Its witty dialog/and or jargon lends itself to each character keeping the edginess going, allowing every ACTOR to shine and reach objectives. What I thought was a pretty crafty move in reaching performance level is having read about McConaughey and Phillippe agreeing to not rehearse scenes prior to shooting. In turn, this allowed uncertainty; a degree of trust and opportunity to have had both actors surprise each other during work hours. With that said, tumbs up to both of these men, seeing as they worked well off each other, however, my former acting coach would have raised an eye-brow on this approach due to his firm beliefs on comfort and chemistry, but I thought it worked well on screen. Yes, I’m sure many takes went into play and the reason why an editor gets paid is to make it look awesome, but, hey, it worked and in the end that’s all that matters!
Supporting players like Marisa Tomei (Ex-Wife to to Mick). William H. Macy (Mick’s best friend/investigator), Josh Lucas (The Assistant D.A. who goes against Mick) and Frances Fisher (Phillippe’s stone cold mom), although peripheral, were there not only in presence, but sprit as well as vital links to the story’s success. (For the most part, there are films which can do without secondary players, however, not in this one.) Following secondary players comes scenery and kudos to Brad Furman on displaying many parts of LA., not just Beverly Hills and the Valley. Here we get to see gritty locales like Echo Park, Lincoln Heights and The Lynwood County Jail, which Furman says was “incredibly real and also pretty appalling.” (Well, no freakin’ duh! Ya Think?!) It always helps to expose ALL, rather than bits and pieces. I’m a native New Yorker and totally thrown off when films decide to only display Manhattan’s ritzy areas, rather than the realism among the other boroughs which clearly depict what Native New Yorkers are really like, swag, style and the utter diversity within the rest of the city.
Overall, ‘THE LINCOLN LAWYER’ is a movie that represents! It’s not to say Hollywood hasn’t produced other law-based films with gonads and credibility, because it has, but I really enjoyed the darkness in this picture and for sure serves as an intense film which has you swinging on both sides of the fence and I’m not talking sexually… I mean, unless McConaughey would have been shir-less, THEN perhaps some of you would have swung the sexual way too!
GRADE: A / GENRE: Thriller, Crime/Gangster and Adaptation / ROARS: 5 out of 5
RATED: R / RUN TIME: 2 Hrs.
STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Francis Fisher
DIRECTOR: Brad Furman
(Opens Fri. March 18, 2011)
Related: John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas, Marisa Tomei, Matthew Mcconaughey, Michael Pena, Ryan Phillippe, The Departed, The Lincoln Lawyer, William H. Macy, Starpulse Exclusives, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers, Movie Spotlight
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Photo Credits: Lionsgate