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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer



In the solid, crowd-pleasing legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer, Matthew McConaughey rides the highways and byways of Los Angeles in his Lincoln Continental, defending the guilty for the almighty dollar. He's a fine drinking buddy and personally liked by many of his peers, even while they openly despise his money-grubbing ethics. A smooth talking, snake oil shillin' slickster, McConaughey unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a labyrinthine set up when he agrees to defend handsome rich boy Ryan Phillippe, who is accused of the rape and battery of comely prostitute Margarita Levieva. It doesn't take long for McConaughey to realize Phillippe is guilty - there's no ambiguity about this and even the trailers give Phillippe's guilt away.  McConaughey is stuck being forced to defend a man he knows not only committed this crime but actually murdered a different comely prostitute (Yari De Leon); in the past McConaughey plea bargained a man to life in San Quentin for that murder without ever digging deeper to learn it was really Phillippe who did it. Phillippe has a time to kill, more than enough time, it turns out. Soon, Phillippe and McConaughey are caught in a deadly game, with Phillippe threatening to kill the family of the lawyer he hand picked to keep him out of prison.  An excellent cast, including William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei, never overshadow the confident magnetism McConaughey delivers, even as his shiny patina is stripped away in repeated bouts of self-destructive alcoholism. McConaughey wrestles provocatively with his own conscience and morality, coming face to face with the reality of the living he earns defending the truly evil. The Lincoln Lawyer also proved once and for all that Matthew McConaughey and Josh Lucas are not only different people but can occupy the same space at the same time. While McConaughey shines, The Lincoln Lawyer makes Lucas, as the state prosecutor, look so weak and foolish, he might as well have appeared at Phillippe's trial with his pants pulled down around his ankles.