Mickey Haller is L.A.'s top criminal defense lawyer – a fast-living, freewheeling pro who does business out of the back seat of his classic Lincoln Town Car. He knows all the ins and outs of the legal system and how to exploit them to his clients' advantage. But after agreeing to defend a wealthy young man accused of rape and murder, Mickey suddenly finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of violence, vengeance, and deception that threatens to not only end his career, but also his life.
I hesitate to talk about any of the plot of The Lincoln Lawyer for fear I may give away a crucial spoiler without really knowing it. The movie packs in the twists and turns, like any good legal drama, but it seems almost every scene adds another twist. Describing the events surrounding the movie's main drive may end up spoiling some or all of the story for you. I'm going to try and go about this as gingerly as possible. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.
Over the past decade or so we've become accustomed to Matthew McConaughey starring in ridiculous chick flicks (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) or ridiculous action movies (Sahara). We've become all too used to him taking off his shirt so we can see his rippling muscles. We've all joked about McConaughey's penchant for removing his shirt, and have probably make snide remarks about it before seeing another one of his movies. "I wonder if McConaughey will be able to keep his shirt on in this movie." While he does remove his shirt in The Lincoln Lawyer (surprise, surprise), at least it isn't a lingering shot of him stepping out of the shower or emerging from the ocean.
McConaughey has spent so much time on cruise control, shifting from one cookie-cutter romantic lead to another, that I had almost forgotten what a good actor he is. Watching him as smooth-talking lawyer Mick Haller reminded me of his performance in another solid courtroom drama, A Time to Kill. The Lincoln Lawyer doesn't deal with the heavy racial undertones that A Time to Kill tackled, but McConaughey's performance as a cocky attorney sure does carry over. He can be very good when given the right script.
Haller has just taken on a new client, wealthy real estate heir, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), who has just been charged with assault and battery. A girl was found with half her face beaten and bruised, and she's fingered Roulet as the assailant. Haller thrives on cases like this. His charm and wit carry him a long way. He plays the justice system like it's a game of poker, and any chance he gets, he stacks the deck in his favor. Everything he does may not be ethical, but it sure does get results.
The Lincoln Lawyer has a sleek look and feel. Sometimes it's more like a jazzed up episode of CSI, other times like Law & Order. It suffers from its procedural nature, but excels when McConaughey is at his cocky best. It deals with the hazards of being a defense attorney. You're constantly dealing with unsavory characters, and wondering about their innocence. Would you be able to tell if your client was innocent, or would years of defending lowlifes take its toll? Would you assume everyone was innocent, or would you even care if they were? That's the dilemma going on in Haller's mind. He's good at what he does, but does that outweigh the potential cost of what he's doing?
Yes, The Lincoln Lawyer is a thriller with the standard "bet you didn't see that coming" moments. All too often it feels like it would have made a better TV show on basic cable than it does a movie. With anyone else in the starring role it would have felt flat and dated. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Matthew McConaughey is the reason to see The Lincoln Lawyer.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Lincoln Lawyer comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc and a Region A locked Blu-ray Disc. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy. The discs are housed in an eco-friendly, hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve too.
The Lincoln Lawyer comes to 4K UHD with a 2160p transfer with HDR10 grading and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
It's an odd choice for Lionsgate to release this 2011 film on 4K UHD out of their entire catalog, but here we are. Detail gets a noticeable upgrade compared to the previous Blu-ray version, with more facial features standing out and textures in the nice suits being more prominent on screen. William H. Macy's full beard and head of hair show individual strands, and you'll be able to see discreet taste buds on a certain character's tongue. Other shots of the courtroom and conference rooms reveal polished tables and shining leather chairs.
When it comes to the color spectrum, this 4K UHD Blu-ray with HDR10 seems to be a bit cooler and muted than the previous Blu-ray release. The courtroom scenes aren't warm with browns or tan colors; instead, they lean less saturated with an almost blue tint. The blue tint continues with exterior scenes, making everything look icy cold.
Black levels are still deep and inky, but skin tones are muted due to this filter and don't look as natural as they could. There are also some minor instances of noise here and there and even a few sequences of image instability, especially when the camera pans from side to side (certain objects would become unstable as they enter into frame).
While this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray might offer a slight improvement in detail, I think the standard Blu-ray release is the better overall presentation.
This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release comes with an excellent Dolby Atmos track that does a great job despite the courtroom drama genre limitations.
The Dolby Atmos track kicks into full gear early on with sounds of cars driving by, people talking, and general city sounds coming through the height speakers and surrounds. It's very impressive. Other great sound effects take place at the prison with jail doors closing and inmates talking, which immerses you in their solitary life now. You'll feel like there are many people around you, talking and yelling. Other ambient noises are robust and come through quite often. The score always adds to the suspense of each scene with smooth bass that never comes across as overbearing. The dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with, and free of all pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. This is a fantastic upgrade for sure.
The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid courtroom drama with twists and turns that still hold up some seven years later. It's an odd choice for 4K re-release when so many other films haven't been, but I'm not really complaining about it. The 4K video presentation isn't as good as the previous Blu-ray version in my opinion, but the Dolby Atmos track is top notch for this type of film. If you're a fan of the film, you might want to upgrade for the Dolby Atmos track alone. Other than that, everything is the same as the previous release. For Fans Only.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.