“The Lincoln Lawyer”
Ah, a meaty .role for Matthew McConaughey. And he knows what to do with it. He plays Mick Haller, a defense attorney who operates from the back of his Lincoln Town Car, with uniformed chauffeur. He deals with rough-looking motorcycle gangs. He defends people caught with drugs. He has a bit of a drinking problem. His personal life is kind of a mess, complicated by gray relationships. But he’s smart and he has heart, and deals with the rest as best as he can, so we have no problem identifying with him and rooting for him. The problem is when has to defend someone who really is a violent, manipulative scumbag, and worst of all, he’s getting away with it.
Ryan Philippe plays Louis Roulet, who grew up a spoiled rich kid and now as an adult thinks he can do anything with impunity, and his Mommy---and her money---will clean up the mess for him. He hires Mick Haller because he seems just seedy enough to take the money and not ask too many questions. But Haller is hearing an alarm bell that he can’t turn off even if he tries. And he doesn’t like being lied to by his clients, or being played for a fool by anyone.
Haller was married, once, to one of the attorneys at the D.A. office, Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei). They now have one of those complicated post-marital relationships where they have to communicate about child care (for their daughter), but though they know they can’t live together successfully, there’s enough shared personal history that they still care for each other. And sometimes they choose to express that caring inappropriately. At least it’s inappropriate in front of their daughter, who’s confused enough as it is.
There are some good, hard-edged secondary performances here---by the likes of William H. Macy and John Leguizamo---and the kind of root-for-the-underdog story that pleases audiences, if they can develop some affection for the character. And here, in “The Lincoln Lawyer,” they can.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas