The Lincoln Lawyer (film)

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The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brad Furman
Written byJohn Romano
Based on The Lincoln Lawyer
by Michael Connelly
Produced by
Cinematography Lukas Ettlin
Edited byJeff McEvoy
Music by Cliff Martinez
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date
  • March 10, 2011 (2011-03-10)(Hollywood)
  • March 18, 2011 (2011-03-18)(United States)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million [1]
Box office$87.1 million [2]

The Lincoln Lawyer is a 2011 American legal thriller film adapted from the 2005 novel of the same title by Michael Connelly. The film is directed by Brad Furman, with a screenplay written by John Romano, and stars Matthew McConaughey as the titular lawyer, Mickey Haller. The film also stars Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, Josh Lucas, William H. Macy, and Bryan Cranston.


The story is adapted from the first of several novels featuring the character of Mickey Haller, who works out of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car rather than an office. Haller is hired to defend the son of a wealthy Los Angeles businesswoman in an assault case. Details of the crime bring up uncomfortable parallels with a former case, and Haller discovers the two cases are intertwined.

The film was released on March 18, 2011. It received generally positive reviews and grossed $87 million.


Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller works in LA County, California, mostly from the back of his black Lincoln Town Car, chauffeured by Earl Briggs. Most of his career has been defending low-end criminals, such as a biker club led by Eddie Vogel.

Haller is hired for a high-profile case, representing wealthy Louis Roulet, a Beverly Hills playboy and son of real estate mogul Mary Windsor. He is accused of brutally beating prostitute Regina Campo, and insists he is the innocent victim of a setup. Haller and his investigator, Frank Levin analyze photos and evidence and find it similar to a past case, resulting in a life sentence for his client, Jesus Martinez, for murdering a woman, despite his repeated proclamations of innocence.

Haller's ex-wife, DA Maggie McPherson, has always disliked him representing guilty clients, though they remain close. He wonders if he was wrong for persuading Martinez to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. Haller visits Martinez, who becomes agitated when Haller shows him Roulet's photo. Now believing Roulet is the killer in the Martinez case, he is bound by attorney–client confidentiality rules, and unable to reveal what he knows.

Roulet breaks into Haller's house and nonchalantly admits to committing the murder for which Martinez was convicted. He makes veiled threats toward his ex and their daughter. Levin is found shot to death after leaving Haller a voicemail message claiming he found Martinez's "ticket out of jail." Haller discovers that his late father's .22 Colt Woodsman is missing from its box, the same caliber gun that killed Levin.

Detective Lankford, who dislikes Haller, discovers the gun's registration and suspects his involvement in Levin's murder. Haller is certain that Roulet stole the weapon when he broke into his home.

Legally obliged to defend his client, guilty or not, Haller ruthlessly cross-examines Campo and discredits her in the jury's eyes. He then sets up a known prison informant with information on the previous murder. When the informant testifies, Haller discredits him, and the state's attorney can only move to dismiss all charges. Roulet is set free, but the police arrest him immediately after for the previous murder, based upon testimony Haller coaxed from the informant.

Haller acquires a pistol from Earl for protection. Roulet is released due to lack of evidence and intends to kill Haller's ex-wife and daughter. He is waiting at Maggie's when Roulet arrives. Haller vows that he will not stop until Martinez is freed and Roulet is convicted for his crime; Roulet mockingly tells him he cannot guard his family all the time. The bikers whom Haller previously represented suddenly arrive and brutally beat Roulet.

Maggie discovers Levin had found a parking ticket issued to Roulet near the previous murder victim's house. It is strong evidence against Roulet in his pending murder trial and will support Martinez's innocence. Upon arriving home, Haller discovers Roulet's mother, Mary Windsor, waiting inside. She shoots him with the Colt Woodsman, confessing that she murdered Levin to protect her son. When Mary moves to shoot Haller again, he brandishes the gun obtained from Earl and fatally shoots her.

Martinez is released, and the DA will seek the death penalty for Roulet. As Haller rides off to his next case, he is pulled over by Vogel and the biker gang, whose case he takes pro bono in gratitude for their help.



On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 173 reviews, with an average rating of 6.67/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "It doesn't offer any twists on the predictable courtroom thriller formula, but with a charming Matthew McConaughey leading its solid cast, The Lincoln Lawyer offers briskly enjoyable entertainment." [3] At Metacritic, the film has an average weighted score of 63 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale. [5]

After watching a rough cut of the film on November 12, 2010, Michael Connelly, author of the book The Lincoln Lawyer, said: [6]

The movie comes out March 18. A couple days ago I saw an unfinished cut of it and could not be happier. I thought it was very loyal to the story and the character of Mickey Haller. Matthew McConaughey nails him. Those who loved the book will love the movie, I think. Those who don't know the book will love it just the same. The casting and acting is really superb. Like I said, I could not be happier. I'm very excited and can't wait to see what fans of the book think.

Home media

The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 12, 2011. [7] It was later released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on August 15, 2017.

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