Good, solid, standard movie mysteries are hard to find these days. Again and again, I find myself thinking I’d like to watch a film in which two cops stand over a murder victim and try to figure out what happened to him – and unless I turn on Turner Classics, there just aren’t any. The reason, I think, is obvious. TV has taken the genre over. You can watch just that sequence of events on any of a dozen shows with only minor variations. And they’re pretty well done too. Nice, satisfying little mysteries solved by anything from quirky mediums to by-the-book cops.
That’s pretty much what you get with The Lincoln Lawyer, a Matthew McConaughey vehicle based on a bestselling novel by Michael Connelly. It’s basically a long episode of the cancelled TV series Shark, but it’s still an entertaining couple of hours of viewing. It’s the stuff from the novel, which I also read and enjoyed, that elevates the pic from an hour’s worth of entertainment to a feature-worthy tale. Connelly knows how to make a character seem iconic, how to weave a plot, and how to deliver a satisfying conclusion. He did all that in the book and screenwriter John Romano translated it deftly to the screen.
The plot: a sleazy defense attorney gets a case bigger than his moral outlook when a young man is accused of assaulting a prostitute. Again, nothing surprising or terribly original, but expert and fun if you’re in the mood for a mystery.