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The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

4K UHD Released: 8/15/2017

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/9/2017

The great thing about movies which focus on baseball is that they make the game look much more exciting than it really is. (See Homer Simpson's view on the subject in the episode "Duffless".) The movies cut out the pitching duals and rain delays and only show us the home runs and near miss tags. The same can be said for court room dramas. They take the long and drawn out proceedings from our legal system and condense them down to impassioned speeches and surprise witnesses. (I can help but wonder how many people became lawyers only to find that it wasn't all that exciting.) And a polished legal film will take that concept and crank it up a notch by showing us something which we haven't seen before. That's what we get with The Lincoln Lawyer.

Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a slick defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Because he's always on the movie from case-to-case, Mick works out of the back of a Lincoln Town Car, driven by Earl (Laurence Mason). While Mick is visiting one of his regular customers in lock-up, he's approached by bail bondsman Val (John Leguizamo) with a new client -- Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a rich real-estate heir who has been accuse of assault. Mick meets Louis and then, after agreeing to take the case, is introduced to Louis' mother (Frances Fisher) and the family lawyer. Mick puts his investigator, Frank Levin (William H. Macy), on the case, as they try to learn more about Louis and the crime. The research uncovers a lot of secrets and Mick realizes that this case will be like none other.

Courtroom drama films have been around for decades and over the years we've seen classics like 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockinbird, and The Verdict. However, in 1989, John Grisham released A Time to Kill and the modern legal story in America changed. The focus shifted to young and ambitious attorneys who found themselves involved in moral mysteries. This trend continued through Grisham's novels, many of which were made into films, and the fad was picked up by other authors. The Lincoln Lawyer is based on a novel by crime reporter turned author Michael Connelly and it falls squarely into this genre.

The first half of The Lincoln Lawyer takes us down a very familiar path, as we are introduced to Mick Haller, the cocky attorney who loves money and attention. Similarly, Louis is a fairly standard suspect -- a rich guy who feels that he's being targeted for his money, as he's being accused of assault by a prostitute. But, hang in there, as the second half of the movie introduces some new ideas. I don't want to give anything away here, but Mick realizes that not only are many elements of the case not exactly what he thought, he must approach the case in a way that he's never done before. The story is sort of a mystery, but all is revealed relatively quickly and the question then becomes how can Mick make sure that justice is done. As one can imagine, the situation presents Mick with some moral issues which not only make him question this case, but a case from the past.

As noted, The Lincoln Lawyer hits many familiar notes, but it maximizes those tropes and folds in enough new things to be a winner. Matthew McConaughey has never struck me as someone who would have graduated from law school, but he's well cast as the self-obsessed lawyer. The rest of the film is stuffed wall-to-wall with familiar faces, including Bryan Cranston in a small role. The one issue which I had with the cast was Phillippe, as I never found him sympathetic. That hiccup aside, The Lincoln Lawyer presents us with a solid story which contains just enough twists and turns to keep the audience hooked.

The Lincoln Lawyer never tells us which Mick doesn't drive on 4K UHD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p HD transfer which runs at an average of 55 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source materials. As with many 4K transfers, the brighter scenes look better here, and the daytime scenes show bright tones which are razor sharp. The colors look good, most notably the greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works very well and the level of detail is noticeable. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects work quite well during the street scenes and especially the courtroom scenes. There is also nice movement of the sound amongst the speakers as the characters move about the courtroom. The track even manages to work in some well-placed bass effects at times.

The Lincoln Lawyer 4K UHD offers several extra features. "Making the Case: Creating The Lincoln Lawyer" (14 minutes) is a featurette which offers comments from the filmmakers, cast, and author Michael Connelly. They talk about the plot, the themes and the production. We also get some on-set footage and some storyboards. "Michael Connelly: Home on the Road" (10 minutes) has the author taking us on a tour of the Los Angeles, pointing out locations which were inspiration for the story. "One on One with McConaughey and Connelly" (5 minutes) has the actor and the author discussing the Mick character. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long