3.5 stars
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line

The Lincoln Lawyer

Street Date:
July 12th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 27th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
116 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

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 does, 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 movie 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 to it. Sometimes it feels like a jazzed up episode of 'CSI,' other times it feels 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.'

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Lionsgate has put 'The Lincoln Lawyer' into a Blu-ray/DVD combo package. The feature comes on a BD-50 Blu-ray Disc. The DVD is also where you'll find access to the Digital Copy of the movie. It's indicated on the case that this is a region A release only.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'The Lincoln Lawyer' will wow you with its visuals. It isn't a flashy CG-animated movie throwing awe-inspiring visuals at you at every second. Still, it's one of the best looking dramas I've seen presented on the format this year.

What you'll notice first about Lionsgate's 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is the brilliant detail involved in almost every scene. Close ups on faces shine with stunning clarity. From the smooth beauty of Marisa Tomei, to the aged looks of William H. Macy, each actor comes away looking like a million bucks. Intricate textures on Haller's tailored suits can be seen and analyzed. The shimmer of Haller's impeccably washed Lincoln town car reflects the surrounding Los Angeles landmarks with precision. The detail here is just superb.

The movie captures the grittiness of LA. This isn't the bright and sunny LA we normally see featured when characters walk up and down Rodeo Drive. This is the grimy LA. The film's lifelike color palette accurately reflects the town's dour look. Flashbacks are given an intentionally hazy feel as lights bend vertically to give us a dreamlike look. Still, even then, the movie's images are clear and concise. Edges are easily defined and shadows are wonderfully delineated. 'The Lincoln Lawyer' looks damn near immaculate on Blu-ray.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

You wouldn't expect a courtroom drama like this to sound so good. I know I didn't. Lionsgate's 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound experience is understated, but wonderfully presented.

There are no explosions, gunfights, or action scenes that will rock your home's foundation. Instead 'The Lincoln Lawyer's sound design focuses on the minimal. Ambient sound is always present, whether Haller is driving through LA's surface streets, or in a crowded courtroom. LFE is present during flashback scenes in clubs that are pumping out hip-hop music, or when he's greeted by a cavalcade of roaring Harley engines from a friendly biker gang. Directionality works wonders not only for offscreen dialogue, but for motorcycle sound effects that require the entire sound field to come alive with rumbling engines encircling Haller's car. The extra two side speakers add to the equation by providing extra channels for a more encompassing experience.

Dialogue is never dulled, and is always intelligible. Whispers and low talking characters are perfectly understandable. It may seem a little overbearing for a drama to have a 7.1 mix, but once you hear it you'll understand how much it adds to the movie's overall feel.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Making the Case: Creating 'The Lincoln Lawyer' (HD, 14 min.) — Author Michael Connelly, who wrote the novel this movie is based upon, talks about what it was like adapting his book into a movie.
  • Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road (HD, 10 min.) — Connelly joins us again on this featurette where he drives around and talks about different locations in LA.
  • One on One with McConaughey and Connelly (HD, 5 min.) — Here Connelly interviews McConaughey about what it was like playing Mick Haller.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 min.) — Four very short deleted scenes are included here, just some extra footage with McConaughey and Marisa Tomei.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives included.

Final Thoughts

'The Lincoln Lawyer' is a solid thriller, but it does descend into the all-too-familiar tropes of a courtroom drama. Ultimately, it's a courtroom procedural that does little to distance itself from other courtroom dramas other than adding McConaughey in the title role. I was skeptical of his participation at the outset, wondering if he still had it in him to take on a role of this nature, fortunately, he does. He's the reason to see this movie if you're interested in it. The audio and video are just the icing on the cake. Recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1


  • English, English SDH, Spanish


  • Making the Case: Creating 'The Lincoln Lawyer'
  • Deleted scenes
  • Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road
  • One on One with McConaughey and Connelly

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