DVD Release Date: July 12, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: March 18, 2011
Rating: R (for some violence, sexual content and language)
Genre: Drama, Adaptation
Run Time: 119 min.
Director: Brad Furman
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Margarita Levieva, Michael Pena, Trace Adkins

Back in the ‘90s when John Grisham courtroom thrillers were veritable box office gold, Matthew McConaughey (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) put his cocky swagger to particularly good use as a young lawyer defending an African American father who’d taken the law into his own hands after the brutal rape of his 10-year-old daughter in A Time to Kill.

For whatever reason, McConaughey—shirt and all—looks right at home in the courtroom, and that’s precisely why The Lincoln Lawyer works so well, too. Unlike A Time to Kill, however, McConaughey’s character isn’t quite so noble, naive or well-intentioned. In fact, Mick’s quite the opposite; He’s a slick, smooth-talking charmer who simply knows how to work the legal system to his—and his clients’—maximum advantage.

Specializing in helping low-life lawbreakers (think pot dealers, prostitutes and bikers) avoid lengthy jail time—and overcharging them for the privilege to boot—Mick doesn’t even have an office. Instead, he prefers keeping the overhead low by operating out of the backseat of a Lincoln Continental. And given his decidedly shifty way of doing business, he’s not exactly the LAPD’s favorite attorney either.

Fortunately, Mick’s got more than enough confidence to actually care, and just in case you didn’t pick up on that already, his license plates reading NTGUILTY pretty much settle the score. Yes, he’s a defense attorney for profit and nothing more, much to his ex-wife’s (Marisa Tomei, Cyrus) chagrin.

For the record, Maggie isn’t just his former lover and the mother of his young daughter, but a prosecuting attorney who’s always trying to point him in a more noble direction. Naturally, he’s having none of it, but he definitely doesn’t mind their flirty banter in the meantime.

Of course, the Lincoln Lawyer’s story wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if it merely remained business as usual. After all, scummy lawyers are supposedly a dime a dozen, right? But even the streetwise Mick couldn’t have predicted how complicated his life would get when a money-grubbing bail bondsman (John Leguizamo, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) gives him the tip of a lifetime. Instead of working his usual beat, Mick could actually score some major cash by defending a Beverly Hills playboy, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe, MacGruber) who’s currently being held for the attempted rape and murder of a prostitute.

Clearly, it’s an offer that Mick can’t refuse, so he wastes no time meeting up with Louis and his blueblood parents to iron out the details. Boldly proclaiming his innocence, Louis maintains that he was set up so the girl could enjoy early retirement. But as Louis begins explaining what happened during the night in question, Mick begins to see cracks in his story right from the get-go. And for the first time in a good, long while, Mick actually finds himself burdened by his conscience and wondering how justice should best be served.