Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Lincoln Lawyer

Matthew McConaughey  has traded in his bongos for a briefcase in the new film "The Lincoln Lawyer". The story is based on the bestselling novel by Michael Connelly. It centers on a snaky lawyer, played by McConaughey who will do anything for big bucks. His portrayal of Mickey Haller is cool and slick. He is  a Teflon robot with a suntan. McConaughey's usual blonde surfer dude persona is absent. Instead of the smooth complexion in his usual romantic comedies, he now has scales. And that is to his credit. Mickey Haller is more of a laconic Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" or a bronzed Jason Bourne than a sun-dappled beach bum.
In an initial scene when Mickey Haller is approached by a motorcycle gang, he shows no unease. Despite his summery looks, he is no stranger to the seedy dog-eared world of violence. Inside, Haller is an iron shield. The only time he cracks is when he meets a Ralph Laurenish sociopath played by Ryan  . Phillippe.  And worse, discovers the murder of his friend, who is played vividly by William H. Macy.
Ryan Philippe's Louis Roulet would make Patricia Highsmith proud. He is a manipulative monster of a mama's boy in golf shoes, second only to his mother in the film. Phillippe puts the gruesome back  in goody- two- shoes.
Roulet is the brat you love to hate, descending from a long line of cold elite fish from Dorian Gray to Bruno Antony.
At times the movie echoes the trappings of a CSI how-he-did-it episode. But the suspenseful pathos of Mickey Haller keeps us watching and wondering how and when he will execute his own vengeance on the seersucker brat. Does he have it in him? Is he good or bad? It is this mixture that makes McConaughey compelling. As a tormented man, he pays fitting tributes to the noirish Ray Milland and Michael Keaton in his Bat years.
McConaughey would do well to leave his bongos on the beach for a few more films. His new shark-skin  smile suits him fine.

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