If you read my Sucker Punch review, then you know a little bit about O‘ahu and all the totally fun things you can do there. In fact, we were having such a good time with the rain and lack of surf that when it came to our last day of break, we decided to go to the movies…again, only this time we had to walk the 3 miles there, and we were late, and it was hot out. Who knew that three, shirtless, power-walking dudes would get so many cheers and catcalls? That’s right. Hawaii thinks I’m sexy.
After showing up to the theater sunburned and pouring sweat and getting told by a manager that clothing at this particular establishment was not in fact optional, we settled into what was a perfectly good but rather forgettable thriller. And that’s how I think this review will end up: Thrilling!…or forgettable. One or the other.
Anyway, I don’t remember how the movie started, but I do remember that lawyer Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) was a great character to root for. He’s charming and slimy in all the right places. He hires a guy to pretend to be a reporter, then talks him out of filming in order to keep heat off his client. As far as the client knows, Haller has complete control over all cameramen. Amazing! Haller loves his daughter and is on good terms with his ex-wife and is friends with a bike gang, and damn, what a good-looking guy that McConaughey is.
For all that, he’s no Tom Cruise–level lawyer from A Few Good Men, which I finally saw last night. I can’t believe it took me so long to not be able to handle the truth! I’ve been waiting for that for so long. Anyway, The Lincoln Lawyer is much more of a mindless beach-read, but it does a great job of being what it is. The thrills keep increasing in intensity, for not only is the courtroom setting nerve-wracking, but there starts to be real danger outside the office as people get killed off and the mystery weaves its way into Haller’s life.
There are twists aplenty, to the point that the person sitting next to me kept gasping and squeaking in fear and excitement. The twists were just unexpected enough, the acting never got in the way of anything, and the pressure was always on.
I enjoyed myself pretty much the whole time, and if I were a betting man, which I am, I’d put money on your liking it too. Still, there were some problems. For instance, the ex-wife: completely unnecessary. I’m sure she’s a relevant character in the book, but she doesn’t actually add anything to the film, thematically or plot-wise. In my opinion, they should’ve just cut her and found some other way to scare Haller, rather than relying on threats to a family to which his ties are tenuous at best.
Oh, and there’s some shameless product placement that was jarring and painful. When Haller is carrying his daughter home after their dad date, she’s holding this bright red AMC popcorn bag, then later it cuts to a scene of Haller and his ex-wife talking, and the first thing the wife says is “Who knew 3-D movies could be so much fun?!?!!” in this over-the-top “this is an advertisement” voice that reminded me of the wife in The Truman Show. Why advertise AMC to people who are already at the movies? It reminds me of when they used to have those “Don’t download movies” messages before the trailers. Preachin’ to the choir, man. Preachin’ to the freakin’ choir.
Last and the opposite of least, this movie has no ending whatsoever. The evidence is starting to mount against the bad guy, Haller is just about to be all kinds of awesome, and you can’t wait for the moment you get to see Haller kick ass in the courtroom and put away Mr. Evil for life, but instead a minor character pops in and informs us that everything worked out. There’s absolutely no catharsis. Your emotions are all pent up…and that’s how they stay. It’s especially obvious in the final scene as the bike gang pulls up alongside Haller’s car and you’re worried they’re going to betray and kill him. You know some manner of horrible thing is going to happen because otherwise why would this scene be there. I mean, the movie’s got at least 15 minutes left, right? WRONG! It’s just over. The bikers are all friendly and un-twisty.
Thrilling the whole time, but nothing new, plus that bad ending left a sour taste in my mouth.
Also, don’t watch the trailer. It gives away one of the twists, and though it’s not the most surprising twist, it’s certainly important.