The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer may have just had a Netflix TV series reboot but let’s take a moment for the Matthew McConaughey film too

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The Lincoln Lawyer has just been rebooted for a new Netflix series but the original 2011 film was the stuff of crime thriller dreams, according to one Stylist writer. 

When a film or TV series does well, it’s only a matter of time before the adaptations, reboots and spin-off series make an appearance. It seems to be a winning formula for engaging new audiences – and we can’t deny how good (and unexpected) some of them can be.

Take the recent – and much darker – Fresh Prince reboot, Bel-Air, for example, or lest we forget the pandemonium that And Just Like That stirred up for Sex And The City fans everywhere.

Another more recent example is Netflix’s new series, The Lincoln Lawyer. The reboot stars The Magnificent Seven’s Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Scream’s Neve Campbell and has a slew of crimes and mystery murders at the heart of it. It follows Mickey Haller (Garcia-Rulfo), an iconoclastic idealist who runs his LA law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln car, as he takes on cases big and small.

Of course, it follows the same premise of the 2011 film but, being a TV series, it’s got more scope to flesh out dynamics and elements that fans of the film didn’t get to see. But that doesn’t always necessarily mean a reboot is better, or that both versions should be pitted against one another. 

The Lincoln Lawyer
Matthew McConaughey in the original 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer.

Both are adapted from the 2005 novel of the same name by American crime writer Michael Connelly. In the film’s case, though, the lure of The Lincoln Lawyer is undoubtedly Matthew McConaughey. Not in a creepy, nostalgic throwback “look at how handsome he was” kind of way – but more so in the effortless charm and drama he brings to the role.

The film, like the new series, focuses on criminal defence attorney Haller and his many clients, most of whom he happily knows are guilty but even so, he manages to win cases with relative ease.

It’s this kind of mellow, chilled-out persona that entirely makes this role and the change in tempo of the film – as it reaches some of its more dramatic moments – is palpable enough to keep you watching. 

While McConaughey is known for his smooth, drawling Southern charm, it’s not the only thing he brings to this performance. If you’ve watched him in 1996’s A Time To Kill, you’ll know that McConaughey delivers hard-hitting monologues around the state of the American judicial system in a way that you can only hold your breath in anticipation for. 

The Lincoln Lawyer
Mickey Haller (McConaughey) goes from defending low-rate criminals to wealthy Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) in The Lincoln Lawyer.

In the film, Haller is tasked with defending the millionaire young heir who stands accused of a brutal assault on a prostitute, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe). He’s entitled, a complete mummy’s boy and represents all that is wrong when you’re a young man entitled by your position of wealth and power.

Even Haller gets awful vibes from him, leading him to embark on his own investigation where he soon finds similarities with past murders that link back to Roulet. Essentially, Haller has to continue to defend a man he knows is guilty – something he does regularly anyway – but also has to bring the truth of the case to light in a way that won’t impact his life or career.

It brings into question whether someone can truly separate themselves from their career when their own morals and personal motivations are drawn so close to it. And what happens when a legal case goes from the courtroom to threats on your own personal life? 

The Lincoln Lawyer
Matthew McConaughey and Maggie McPherson as Mickey Haller and Marisa Tomei in The Lincoln Lawyer.

Haller is a divorced father-of-one and is still on generally good terms with his ex-wife, district attorney Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei). They may disagree on the side of the law they represent, but their commitment to protecting the victim is pushed to the limits throughout the film – especially when privileged playboy Roulet sets out on a revenge mission against Haller’s ex-wife and daughter.

It’s the kind of film that fits neatly in the genre of ‘crime thriller’ because it has everything you need from a great one: a meaty crime at its core, an interesting exploration of larger topics – in this case, prostitution, white privilege, wealth and justice – while also having a protagonist (McConaughey) that is the right balance of career-driven and comedic.

This isn’t to say that the new Netflix series doesn’t possess all of those qualities but sometimes the blueprint of the original is followed for a reason – and The Lincoln Lawyer is clearly the ideal springboard for new thriller inspiration.

The Lincoln Lawyer (the 2011 film) is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video. The new series is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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Images: IMDB

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