Klavan On The Culture

DVD: The Lincoln Lawyer

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.