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The Lincoln Lawyer

4

McConaughey recovers his convictions.

The Lincoln Lawyer review

Sahara, Fool’s Gold, The Wedding Planner: for the last decade, Matthew McConaughey’s movie career has been one big failure to launch.

It’s borderline criminal that an actor so talented – check out his smooth-talking, porn ’tached turn in Dazed And Confused (reviewed p146) – has tended to coast on nothing more than a charming smile and ’pecs appeal. But m’lud, if it please the court to hear new evidence, McConaughey may be not guilty after all...

Exhibit A is his killer turn in this classy adaptation of Michael Connelly’s fast-paced legal thriller. Playing slick LA defence lawyer Mick Haller, McConaughey mesmerises: a wellspring of suave narcissism and disarming charm.

Hired to defend a real-estate heir (Ryan Phillippe) on a rape-and-battery charge, Haller quickly realises he’s being played. Stripped of all self-assurance, he endures a sweaty, long dark night of the soul.

It’s a comeback performance that’s all the more impressive given that the supporting cast are at the top of their game too: William H. Macy as a hippie PI; Marisa Tomei as Haller’s ex-wife, wrestling depth and spark from an underwritten role; “faces” like Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo and Bryan Cranston thesping about.

Best of all is Phillippe, whose squid-ink eyes hint at a monstrous past glimpsed only in jittery flashbacks.

Director Brad Furman ratchets up the tension, multiple camera set-ups giving the editing an edgy intimacy that captures just the right shade of LA neo-noir.

With three more books in the Haller series, McConaughey may have just found his Get Out Of Jail Free card.
 

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