It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I like movies about smart guys who are wise asses, and think their way out of tangles with criminals. I like courtroom scenes. I like big old cars. I like “The Lincoln Lawyer” because it involves all three, and because it matches Matthew McConaughey with a first-rate supporting cast, while so many thrillers these days are about a lone hero surrounded by special effects. People have words they actually say in this movie. After “Battle: Los Angeles,” that is a great relief.
Let's start with the big old car. It's a Lincoln, and a lawyer named Mick Haller (McConaughey) does most of his work out of the back seat. Apparently he drove it himself until he was socked with a DUI; given how much he drinks in the film, it's amazing he remembered where he parked it. Now he has a chauffeur (Laurence Mason) who ferries him around to the Los Angeles dealers, hookers, bagmen and low-lifes who are his clientele. Mick's specialty is getting people off, sometimes in a perfectly legal way.
There were decades in the movies when heroes drove new cars, unless it was a period picture. Car makers used to pay for product placement. We saw Mustangs, GTOs, Chargers. But in recent years, action and thriller heroes have driven mostly classic cars, or oddballs like Hummers. The reason for this is obvious: Modern cars all look mostly the same, and none of them look heroic. Can you imagine James Bond in a Camry? My Ford Fusion gets good mileage, but Mick Haller would just look silly doing business out of the back seat. The only new cars still popular in movies are big black SUVs with tinted windows, which usually prowl in packs.
Anyway, Haller is a street-wise defense attorney with connections who knows how to collect and invest prudent envelopes full of cash. So connected is this guy that a motorcycle gang materializes more or less when he needs one. One day a bondsman (John Leguizamo) comes to him with a higher-class client than usual. Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) is a rich kid from Beverly Hills accused of beating up a woman. He's clean-cut, looks Mick in the eyes, seriously insists he is innocent and wants a trial to prove it.