Film Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The interesting thing about The Lincoln Lawyer is that it never gives us an inspirational courtroom speech about truth or fairness.  In fact, the protagonist, a heavy-drinking defense attorney, never expects anyone to sympathize with his search for justice, probably because he gave up on such a thing happening a long time ago.  The man’s past is never fully explained to us, but it may be correct to guess that he used to be a bright, young law student passionate about finding the truth.  Over the years, he has learned the tricks of the trade, and though he is honest and trustworthy, he knows what he can get away with to get the job done.  The events that take place in this book-based courtroom drama are not ones that are pivotal moments in Mick Haller’s life, but ones that are mysterious and intriguing, and they certainly add up to terrific results.

The screenplay, written by John Romano, shows Haller working for a few different clients, but it mainly focuses on a case in which he represents a rich, young man who can beat the system and escape the horrific charges against him.  This causes the attorney to wonder whether to get his client out of the case or secretly set him up to get caught.  Actor Matthew McConaughey takes on the job of bringing us the character of Haller and he is the one who makes the movie enjoyable.  His likability draws us into the film to begin with and his performance keeps us interested.  The film contains an excellent supporting cast with William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena, and Josh Lucas.

While McConaughey helps us enjoy The Lincoln Lawyer, there are other things that make the movie great.  The editing provides added excitement, the soundtrack perfectly expresses the mood, and the script keeps us on the edge of our seat.  It is a whodunit, a thriller, a character study, and a drama all at once.  Out of the few courtroom dramas to come out this year, this one is the most consistently entertaining.

Rating: 4.5/5

Film Review: The Conspirator (2011)

Robert Redford’s newest picture plays like the JFK of the Civil War.  The Conspirator focuses on the defense attorney of a woman accused of assisting in the assassination of President Lincoln.  This woman, perfectly portrayed by Robin Wright, is innocent, but the court is determined to judge against her.

As interesting as the story is, I was sad to find how slow the film began.  It begins with an assassination scene following the deeds of John Wilkes Booth, which already has been done the same way in numerous other films.  Then we meet Mary Suratt, an innocent woman prosecuted so that America may be able to accuse someone of the death of their leader.

What ensues is a gripping, delicious courtroom drama dedicated to documenting a hideous obstruction of justice.  Unlike JFK, The Conspirator does not reveal new information while we find the truth, but instead, we are shown the truth and how it was deliberately shunned.  Such injustice can be frustrating to watch, but Redford handles it with striking maturity.

At times, the film can be very draining; it appears to be a losing battle.  But amazingly, The Conspirator keeps us hooked.  It is difficult to predict, but easy to follow, just how a good, old-fashioned courtroom drama is supposed to be.

I originally had no intentions of seeing this movie.  Not to say that it did not appeal to me, but that I had never heard of it.  I admired Redford’s directorial effort, Quiz Show, and after first hearing of a local showing of his new film, I was, in fact, intrigued.  I am glad I went, because what I found was one of the most worthwhile films of the year so far.

Rating: 4.5/5