Movies

‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ review: Well-executed classic tropes carry Netflix legal drama

A still from ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’

A still from ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’

Legal dramas never go out of style. There’s something engaging about a courtroom drama, the fancy lives of hotshot lawyers, and the cat-and-mouse chase for the truth which makes this genre a fan favourite.  The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid addition to the long list of well-executed projects in the genre.

In Netflix’s latest, we meet Mickey Haller, a defence attorney who has been out of the game for a year due to a surfing accident that left him addicted to pills. A strange turn of events gives him a second chance at the profession that he is the best at, a remark which he and others repeatedly make during the course of the show. 

Haller, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, is handed over the business of another attorney who has just been shot dead. These cases, especially the high-profile murder trial of a tech CEO’s wife and her lover, are the last chance for Haller to get his life and practice back on track. 

And thus, with his second ex-wife cum legal aide, Lorna Taylor, and her boyfriend Cisco — who is also Haller’s private investigator — the Lincoln Lawyer undertakes one of the most important cases of his career. 

The Lincoln Lawyer
Creator: David E. Kelley
Cast: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Neve Campbell, Becki Newton, Jazz Raycole, Angus Sampson, Christopher Gorham, and others
Number of episodes: 10
Storyline: Sidelined after an accident, hotshot Los Angeles lawyer Mickey Haller restarts his career — and his trademark Lincoln — when he takes on a murder case

Haller has a panache for leaving his office environment to be on the road, chauffeured around in his Lincoln cars, where he says he is able to think better. 

The ten-part series is based on the book The Brass Verdict written by Michael Connelly; incidentally, one of his earlier novels based on Haller’s character has already been adapted into a 2011 film of the same name, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston, and others. 

In recreating Connelly’s storyline for a TV audience, creators Ted Humphrey and David E. Kelley rely heavily on fast-paced action, suspenseful storytelling, and of course, obligatory cliff-hangers at the end of every episode. 

The show has all the classic tropes of a good legal drama; a mysterious death, a high-profile murder trial, and engaging courtroom speeches. Yet somehow the show manages to both rise and fall under its own expectations. 

The courtroom scenes don’t showcase anything that you haven’t seen before. And Haller, like other fictional lawyers before him, has the knack of seeing things that others overlook. In one of his many conversations with his client-turned-driver Izzy Letts, he explains that the joy of cracking a case is similar to a bank safecracker’s satisfaction of hearing the lock turn after trying various combinations.  

For those unversed in law jargon, these conversations between Izzy and him are also used to explain the various processes in a courtroom trial. But their relationship runs deeper than this. 

Both Izzy and Haller are ex-addicts, struggling to accept the post-addiction phase. It is in these honest and open chats with Izzy, that viewers are able to delve deeper into the psyche of the witty, sometimes over-confident lawyer. The scenes involving him fixing broken relationships with his first wife Maggie McPherson and their daughter Hayley also helps in breaking his outer exterior. 

The series does not project Mickey Haller to be just another defence attorney; he is a lawyer with guilt and a conscience, and this is where the show soars. He is a man who genuinely believes in the idea that, “better a thousand guilty men go free, than one innocent man rot in prison.” This belief, passed on by his father — who was a defence attorney himself — later becomes his hubris, leading him to take tough calls that will not only jeopardise his career, but also his relationships. 

While the show sets you up for an exhilarating courtroom fight and even delivers on the same, it does struggle to flesh out the secondary sub-plots. One wishes that the show would have lingered on for more than a second on the characters of McPherson, a public prosecutor who is trying to uncover a human-trafficking mafia, or Lorna’s desire to be a lawyer. 

But the cliffhanger in the final episode teases you to brace yourself for a second season, where we can hope to get a better taste of this concoction. 

A tip: Watch out for the number plates of the Lincolns that Haller owns. They reveal much about his character and what’s to come next. 

The Lincoln Lawyer is currently streaming on Netflix


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 3:45:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-lincoln-lawyer-review-well-executed-classic-tropes-carry-netflix-legal-drama/article65438919.ece