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The Lincoln Lawyer

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Michael Pena and Matthew McConaughey star in the thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer."
A generally engaging central character, convincingly brought to life by Matthew McConaughey, lends verve to "The Lincoln Lawyer" (Lionsgate). Yet, though vibrant, this thriller is also frequently seamy and includes numerous moral and visual elements that narrowly circumscribe its appropriate audience.

McConaughey plays the titular Los Angeles attorney, Michael "Mick" Haller, a peripatetic defender of petty criminals whose classic Lincoln Continental—license plate: "NTGUILTY"—serves as his traveling office. Though given to ethical corner-cutting, Mick is fundamentally decent, and usually has his clients' best interests at heart.

On the personal side, too, Mick longs to reconcile with his ex-wife, Maggie (Marisa Tomei), a prosecutor with whom he has a young daughter.

When Mick is offered the chance to represent Beverly Hills playboy Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), scion of a powerful real estate dynasty, it seems like an easy step up to the big time. All the more so, since the high-profile case against Louis—he's charged with the attempted murder of a girl he picked up in a singles bar—at first seems quite flimsy.

Clues uncovered by Mick's intrepid investigator—and longtime friend—Frank Levin (William H. Macy), however, soon suggest a murkier scenario.

Driven by McConaughey's kinetic performance, director Brad Furman's adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel makes for a lively drama, both inside the courtroom and beyond.

But its protagonist's occasional scams and eventual resort to borderline vigilantism, his client's libertine lifestyle and—above all—acrid flashbacks detailing violent sexual assaults all mark this whodunit as off-limits for young or casual viewers. Well-grounded adults disposed to take on challenging material, on the other hand, may discern at least a few glints amid the grit.

The film contains considerable explicit violence—including scenes of rape—vigilantism issues, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, fleeting rear nudity, a half-dozen uses of profanity, a few rough terms and much crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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		<p>Clement of Rome was the third successor of St. Peter, reigning as pope during the last decade of the first century. He’s known as one of the Church’s five “Apostolic Fathers,” those who provided a direct link between the Apostles and later generations of Church Fathers. </p>
		<p>His <em>First Epistle to the Corinthians </em>was preserved and widely read in the early Church. This letter from the bishop of Rome to the Church in Corinth concerns a split that alienated a large number of the laity from the clergy. Deploring the unauthorized and unjustifiable division in the Corinthian community, Clement urged charity to heal the rift. <br /></p>
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