For all the backlash Matthew McConaughey receives for rarely straying from playing characters that are simply mild variations on his own charming, aging surfer-dude persona, it's easy to forget just how good of an actor he can be when he rises to an actual challenge. For the record, he completely nails the part of Mickey Haller, a just-getting-by Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of a Lincoln Town Car with a license plate that spells out "NTGUILTY," a somewhat strange spectacle that enhances Haller's own somewhat eccentric personality and unorthodox methods. Haller gets what could be the case of his life when he comes to the defense of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills party boy and son of a real estate queenpin (Frances Fisher) who's been accused of beating up a prostitute (Margarita Levieva); Haller ends up grappling with a doozy of a moral dilemma when he discovers his client may not be as innocent as he originally thought, a situation that also forces him to reexamine a similar case that resulted in a former client (Michael Pena) being shipped off to San Quentin. The Lincoln Lawyer is familiar yet slick and engaging entertainment, led with bravado by McConaughey and ably supported by Marisa Tomei as Haller's ex-wife (and the prosecuting attorney) and William H. Macy as his trusty investigator; ultimately, it's really a better movie than Michael Connelly's quickie crime novel deserves.
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