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Review: 'The Lincoln Lawyer' suggests the legal system is very, very easy to manipulate

** (out of four)

Fast-talking L.A. defense attorney Michael “Mickey” Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a bit of a stereotype. He’s a boozer. He’s got a prosecutor for an ex-wife (Marisa Tomei). And he’s quick to celebrate his achievements, until the case of rich guy Louis (Ryan Phillippe), who may or may not have beaten up a prostitute, gives Mickey a crisis of conscience—because big-screen lawyers never experience those.

The buzz: The script, adapted from a novel by Michael Connelly (“Blood Work”), comes from John Romano, who also struggled to adapt “Nights in Rodanthe.” Maybe supporting turns from reliable people such as Josh Lucas, William H. Macy and Bryan Cranston can help out a movie that needlessly kills off a Cubs fan, proving we really just can’t catch a break.

The verdict: Everything about “The Lincoln Lawyer” is too easy, from figuring out what’s really going on to the way numerous people play the legal game to get what they want. The movie seems to suggest that, hey, everyone’s a little dirty, but Mickey’s behavior is as inconsistent as the film’s view of it. Like light vacation reading or a re-run of a bad “Law and Order” episode, “The Lincoln Lawyer” provides a certain comfort along with its predictability. Its stupidly trashy ending, however, is a tacky coda to a film that’s surprisingly corny for a story that spends so much time dealing with prison and rape.

Did you know? A bail bondsman (John Leguizamo) says Mickey has “more balls than a Chinese ping pong tournament.” Does that have more balls than a tournament in any other country?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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