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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Lincoln Lawyer

By
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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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog One of the difficulties we may have when our lives become unmanageable is that we find dealing with other people to be difficult and we may even struggle to maintain a relationship with God. Caring people especially can find themselves carrying unnecessary crosses as they become lost in the maze of trying to meet everyone’s crazy expectations—including their own!

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