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Lincoln Lawyer, The

8/10

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe. Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Pe√Īa, Bob Gunton, Frances Fisher, Bryan Cranston, William H Macy, Trace Adkins, Lawrence Mason, Pell James, Margareta Levieva, Shea Whigham, Katherine Moenihg, Michael Par√©, Michaela Conlin, Mackenzie Aladjem

Director: Brad Furman

Not every best-seller translates into a good film ¬Ė remember turkeys like The Golden Compass, Catch 22 and Captain Corelli¬ís Mandolin?

So all credit to director Furman and screenwriter John Romano whose adaptation of Michael Connelly¬ís best-seller grabs you from the start and holds you to the end with more twists than a creative tax accountant. This isn¬ít an art film, of course ¬Ė there are no subtitles ¬Ė but a prime example of what Hollywood does best, a genre movie that delivers excellent entertainment.

Casting helps. McConaughey, while, surprisingly, he doesn’t take off his shirt, something that appears to be part and parcel of his usual performances, is excellent as a slick as an oil slick lawyer who works from the back seat of his Lincoln Continental limo and normally looks after lowlifes and none too ethically at that. Which makes him a surprise choice to defend spoiled wealthy Beverly Hills brat Phillippe who, accused of attempted murder, believes money and McConaughey will be his salvation.

The story writhes like a snake on a hotplate as McConaughey and his investigator (Macy, long haired and with a great moustache, larcenously stealing his scenes) prepare for court, with McConaughey matching wits with his client all the way, recalling as complexities escalate, his father¬ís adage, ¬ďThere¬ís no client as scary as an innocent man¬Ē¬Ö

Furman moves the action along at a smart pace, using his Los Angeles locations to good effect and eliciting from McConaughey a strong performance light-years away from his recent romcom outings. Lucas scores, too, as his courtroom opponent, Tomei is effective as his former wife and Phillippe is particularly well cast as an all-American WASP.

Is it entertaining? Thrilling? Ingenious? Holds your attention throughout? My verdict? Guilty as charged.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour.
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 17 Mar 2011