25. THE LINCOLN LAWYER

Director: Brad Furman
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, Josh Lucas, Michael Pena, Margarita Levieva
Starring two guys who’d just recently made it onto our Worst Actors in Hollywood History list , The Lincoln Lawyer seemed like it’d be an uneventful bit of generic crime drama buoyed by arguable has-beens Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe. Little did we know, however, that director Brad Furman wouldn’t let his first mainstream production succumb to mediocrity; yanking a charismatic and dynamic performance from McConaughey and pacing the film with slick energy and some nifty twists, Furman shocked the entire film world—well, at least us—with a solid piece of entertainment. Not to mention, a comeback for an actor whose career had degenerated into Surfer, Dude hell.

McConaughey channels the magnetism that defined his earlier days to play a hotshot defense attorney who takes on a case involving a millionaire player (Phillippe) accused of rape and attempted murder; as the story progresses, McConaughey’s lawyer character begins to question himself for defending a guy he clearly knows is guilty, which leads to a few surprises and some surprisingly tense back-and-forth banter between the two stars.

The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t a game-changer, nor will it linger in critics’ minds come December, but that’s OK. Furman’s quick-paced thriller works best as a flashy escapism that’s best left unexamined, since deeper analysis could unravel the script’s slightly convoluted final act. Just applaud McConaughey’s revival and keep it moving.