Saturday, 7 July 2012

FILM: The Lincoln Lawyer (7/10)

Having enjoyed the book by Michael Connelly, the film held no surprises for me but I was still curious as to how successfully the story could be transferred to the big screen. Matthew McConaughey stars as The Lincoln Lawyer Michael Haller, an LA defence lawyer who operates out of the back of his chauffeured Lincoln.

Employing all sort of tactics to maintain his cash flow, Haller appears brash and without morals as he keeps LA's undesirables out of prison. However, this all changes when he gets drawn into a deadly game of secrets with his latest client, the young, rich Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe).

The screenplay does it best to squeeze in most of the sentiment and moral dilemmas that the book obviously had more time to focus on. Used to winning, Haller struggles with the dangerous situation as he deals with the complex mix of legal obligations, client and attorney privilege and his previous moral shortcomings.

McConaughey shines as the charismatic Haller and will hopefully stick to more meaningful roles in the future based on his performance here and that in his upcoming film Killer Joe. His performance is even stronger when viewed in relation to Phillippe's, who doesn't deliver the menace of the book's character. Michael Pena and John Leguizamo provide strong support to the main characters including William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei in typically minor roles.

Director Brad Furman tries gives some verve to the courtroom scenes with some non-typical angles, but all in all he lets the story play out adequately.The attorney versus client story seemed remarkably similar to that of Ryan Gosling versus Anthony Hopkins in Fracture in 2007.

A word on the soundtrack, which stays true to the hip-hop references of the book. Connelly explains that Haller's interest in the hip-hop genre stems from his driver Earl. I don't feel that this came across enough in the film and that the soundtrack appears to be a typical 'street' savvy selection of music selected for any LA based film. It is interesting that musical duties fell to Cliff Martinez, who had the same role for Drive, also set in LA, and the two soundtracks could not be further apart with the exception of Kalinsky's 'Nightcall' which appears in both.

A successful transformation from book to big screen.

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