The Lincoln Lawyer (15)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei
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The Independent Culture

The most remarkable aspect of this middling legal thriller is that you can stand to watch Matthew McConaughey over two hours.

Yes, he's playing another smooth, smug, Southern-fried git here, an LA lawyer named Mick Haller who's famous for defending the scumbags no one else will, but the drama in which he stars has more heft and class than anyone could reasonably expect. It begins when Haller is hired, out of the blue, to defend a Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who's charged with the attempted rape and murder of a prostitute. What looks like a big pay day, however, turns sour when a similar case from Haller's past returns to haunt him, and the playboy's innocence no longer seems a formality. Like its hero, this is a slick and polished piece of work, not so much for the tangled legal shenanigans of the final half-hour – courtroom drama nearly always deflates the tension – but for supporting turns by William H Macy as Haller's private investigator and Marisa Tomei (underused) as his prosecutor ex-wife. As for McConaughey, he's still a self-satisfied oaf – even his hair looks smarmy – but this is a worrying first step on his road to rehab.

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