The Lincoln Lawyer points its finger and exclaims "alright, objection!" through dreadful direction. Yet another frustrating experience. Given the acclaim this courtroom thriller has received, and a pivotal moment in what is informally known as the "McConaissance", one would've hoped for an engaging experience. Strangely, despite the captivating main case and McConaughey's rejuvenated performance (and that's coming from a person who dislikes his acting...), the direction was a distracting incoherence. Furman does his best to butcher Connelly's novel, and does so in technical anger-inducing amateurism. A high profile attorney is hired to prove a wealthy man's innocence from raping and assaulting a woman.
The plot thickens as he furthers digs down in this investigative case, with many witnesses and suspects not entirely telling the truth. A courtroom drama fuelled by a thrilling story with plenty of twists and turns. The two may not necessarily translate well together, with the courtroom scenes bolstering a large amount of engagement in comparison to the plot details outside of the room, yet the overbearing case contained plenty of dialogue that fuelled fiery exchanges. McConaughey's titular role was revelatory, harnessing the visceral grit and harsh professionalism of a hot shot LA lawyer. You gradually start to cling onto every word he says and when he starts questioning witnesses, you'll be damned if you weren't glued to the screen. The way the narrative is structured, with the only suspect revealing a crucial detail halfway through, was somewhat predictable but that's when the traits of a thriller are introduced. It rapidly becomes personal and the stakes are always increasing through convoluted yet entertaining twists.
However, all of this is for nothing when Furman is at the helm. He categorically savages this thriller through atrocious direction, distracting editing and his inability to end the film satisfactorily. The shoddy camera work, mostly consisting of excessive shakiness and constant zooms, resulted in the film losing its cinematic flair. Frequently it felt like watching an extended episode of 'Law and Order", with those trashy flashback sequences that are tinted with a green filter and shaking like the operator was in the midst of a tepid earthquake. The amount of unnecessary zooms, which produce no tension whatsoever, clearly shows that Furman misuses the technique. Style? Gimme a break.
The editing was haphazard, to the point that the narrative occasionally became disjointed. One scene will see a cold conversation regarding the case with an underused Cranston, only to then rapidly shift to an entirely different scene midway through. The personal aspects of McConaughey's character, most notably his child and rocky relationship with Tomei, were underdeveloped and were only used as a plot device for the last act when they are threatened. Again, acting as another distraction from the main case. Then we get to that well-deserved conclusion. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date and everyone leaves the courtroom in a final twist, beautifully setup I must confess. Perfect ending. Oh no wait, Furman isn't done yet. Someone is released and threatens his family. But wait, there's more! Another twist happens (which makes no sense and is completely useless) and continues on for another ten minutes. I can safely say the film has a minimum of three endings, and only one works well.
For me, The Lincoln Lawyer is an overrated amateur puff piece. A dire shame considering my adoration for courtroom dramas, but Furman himself needed to hire a lawyer to keep this film on track. It did change my mind on McConaughey though...slightly...