Michael Connelly has taken the remnants of a pulp lit past and made a niche for himself as a hardboiled detective novelist with a conscience. The Concrete Blonde and others have gradually gained a massive, loyal cult hungry for more. Clint Eastwood adapted his Bloodwork into a satisfying popcorn confection stamped with his personal signature. Up and coming director Brad Furman sticks closer to Connelly's style, resulting in a tight, workman like legal thriller that pays off in spades.
The Lincoln Lawyer gifts audiences with Matthew McConaghey in one of his strongest performances in some time, as a sleazy defense attorney who is all about the bucks until he grows a conscience. The way this plays out is old hat but refreshing. One key element is Furman's deliberate reliance on Connelly's semi-convoluted but enjoyable plot. The main factor, though, is a terrific cast that brings these archetypes to life.
Spearheaded by a brilliant McConaghey turn, the rest of the actors, including Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher and Michael Pena are superlative. The shadowy turns of the narrative from a legal procedural into a moral drama ups the stakes, both for the characters and the audience, leaving us breathless with satisfaction.