The Lincoln Lawyer Starring Matthew McConaughey (Book and Movie Review)

The Lincoln Lawyer Starring Matthew McConaughey (Book and Movie Review)

5 out of 5 stars of the Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
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Step into the courtroom with The Lincoln Lawyer, a fun legal thriller brought to life by Matthew McConaughey in the hit movie adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel. McConaughey performs as the charismatic defense attorney, Mickey Haller, who runs his legal business out of the backseat of his Lincoln. The book and the movie are legal thriller classics.

Experience a courtroom drama classic with The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey, a must-watch film that combines suspense and legal drama. One of Michael Connelly's best sellers. Don't miss this gripping book-to-movie adaptation of Michael Connelly's best-selling novel that keeps you guessing till the end! ???????? #TheLincolnLawyer #MatthewMcConaughey #LegalThriller #BookReview #MovieAdaptation #CrimeDrama #Suspense #MustWatch #Thriller #Movies #Books #Reading #Entertainment
Midjourney prompt: Matthew McConaughey looking off camera, sitting inside the backseat of a car, high quality model photography, –ar 4:5 –v 5.2

The Lincoln Lawyer Starring Matthew McConaughey: The Captivating Book and Movie Review


If you want to continue the story, they came out with The Lincoln Lawyer tv show. Catch my comprehensive recap of Season 1 here.

The Lincoln Lawyer Official Movie Trailer

What is the Movie The Lincoln Lawyer About? A Summary and Recap

Note: The following recap is from the movie. I go over the differences from the book, below, but the movie and the book are pretty close. 

Mickey Haller is walking down the corridor with Val Valenzuela (John Leguizamo), who tells him of a rich snobby kid, Louis Roulet, who got picked up for beating up a girl really bad. Mickey wants to talk to Harold Casey (David Castro). Mickey wants to get paid, but he isn’t allowed to just quit. Slick Mick decides to ask for a continuance for a key witness, “Mr. Green.” Mickey walks out and gets into a Lincoln, driven by Earl (Laurence Mason). 

Lorna Taylor (Pell James) calls. Lorna is one of Mickey’s ex-wives. Earl asks for a full-time gig because Mickey doesn’t have a license, but Mickey got his license back three months ago. Some motorcyclists (from a gang) pull up. Eddie Vogel (Trace Adkins) hands money to Mickey for the Harold case.

In the courthouse holding cell. Louis says he was set up. Mickey sneaks up on Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei), who is Mickey’s first ex-wife and also the mother of his daughter, Hayley Haller. Bail is set at 1 million. Cecil Dobbs (Bob Gunton). Louis insisted to hire Haller. $100,000 retainer.

Off to see Gloria (Kate Moennig). He wants a rehab for Gloria in exchange for Hector, who is the John who paid her in coke.

They meet up in Dobbs’s high rise with Frank Levin (William H. Macy), who is Haller’s investigator. Mickey kicks out his mother because the attorney-client privilege does not cover her. This is only a half-truth. If Mom is there, there is no attorney-client privilege for Louis.

The backstory: Regina Campo (Margarita Levieva) and Louis met at some club. Girl gives her address. Another guy leaves in a Mustang. He walks into her apartment, and she whacks him over the head, knocking him out. When Louis wakes up, two guys are holding him and the police is milling around. Levin recites what is on the police report.

Maggie shows up to drive Mickey home (drunk). The next morning, Frank shows up with a copy of the security film, which corroborates Louis’s story. The ADA drops it to battery with a deadly weapon for 7 years, out in 4. What is Mickey missing? Mickey and Frank go over the file. The knife is different. Why is Louis lying? Louis tells a story about his mother being raped by someone she was showing a house to.

Mickey goes into the courthouse and encounters Detective Kurlen (Michael Pare). They exchange words, being that they are on the opposite side. (In my experience, this neck-to-neck feud between the two sides doesn’t really happen outside of the courthouse. Most ADAs and PDs/criminal defense attorneys go back and forth because criminal law, just like all the different types of law, is a specialized area.)

Maggie and Mickey share a beer and some flirty flirts, and she invites him back to the house. The next morning, they have a fight about her being an ADA and him being a defense attorney. 

Mickey looks at the picture and figures something out. He remembers another case that he had. Flashback to his client, Jesus Martinez (Michael Pena.) Mickey convinces Jesus to take the deal, even though he was probably innocent. Mickey flies to see Jesus in prison. Jesus tells what happened. Jesus kinda ID’s Louis by screaming Mickey.

Mickey goes to Frank and pours out his heart over the guilt of helping to put an innocent man in prison. They figure out that Louis targets hookers. He waits until a John leaves, then he goes in and rapes and kills her. And that’s why Louis hired Mickey. After driving home, Mickey calls Frank and asks him to investigate into other women that Louis might have killed. Someone has broken into his house.

Louis is in the house to remind Mickey is his hired attorney. Mickey fires back. Next day. Trial, opening statements.

Now at Hayley’s soccer game, but Maggie interrupts and tells Mickey he has somewhere to be. Someone has shot Frank. The detective accuses Mickey of being a suspect. Mickey asks when will the detective retire? So he can come the next day and kick his ass.

Mickey goes over to Val’s house, calling him a liar. Mickey knows that Roulet killed Frank, and Mickey confronts Val (saying he took the ankle bracelet off). Mickey gets shit-faced, Maggie to the rescue.

The next day, he gets a vm from Frank, who might have solved the crime against Jesus. One of the detectives tells Mickey that it was an old Colt Woodsman .22, which just so happens to be Mickey’s gun.

Trial. The John went on to the stand. Mickey accuses him of setting up his client.

Back after. The police search Mickey’s apartment because they find out the Colt is registered to Mickey. At the diner, he meets with Lorna, who gives him info about a witness … at rehab. Lorna gives a little message to the snitch.

Trial, Regina Campo. Mickey goes after her, wondering if she went to an attorney to sue Louis. Mickey kinda destroys Lorna on the stand. Mommy on the stand, asking about the knife. And the ADA walks right into it, not knowing that it was Mommy who was attacked. They get a new offer. 6 months in county, and tomorrow, they put Louis on the stand. The ADA does not do a good job crossing Louis.

* Just as a side note here … most defendants do not (and should not) take the stand. Because they aren’t that good at cross-examination. 

The state asks to adjourn for the night for a rebuttal witness. The ADA is putting that snitch witness on. The two sides argue about why the witness was not told to the defense beforehand. Mickey calls Lorna to come to the courthouse at exactly 10:15. The witness says that Louis said “For giving the bitch exactly what she deserves.” Mickey asks how much the snitch snitched. (4 times.) And then the snitch says about the previous girl that Louis killed. Of course, the detective from earlier (the one Mickey argued with in the hallway) gets a lightbulb moment. 

Lorna walks in. Mickey catches him in the lie and totally decimated his testimony.

The judge calls the attorneys in and reams them out. The ADA motions to dismiss the charges, but we have a little twist. Because the detective arrests Louis for murder. Out in the Lincoln, Earl gives Mickey a gun.

At home, Mickey figures it out. Something about the parking tickets is what got Frank killed. He calls Maggie to get Hayley out of there, then he calls Val to put a trace on Louis. Louis shows up at Maggie’s house. And the motorcycle gang shows up to kick Louis’s ass. There was a parking ticket outside of the house of the first victim, putting Louis at the scene of the crime.

But we’re not done yet. Because Louis’s mother, Mary Windsor, is there. And Mary shoots Mickey, and then Mickey shoots Mary. (Fortunately calling 911 and surviving.) We find out that Mary killed Frank.

Mickey in the Lincoln again, pulled over by the gang. Harold is in trouble again, and Mickey will do that one for free.

Differences From the Book in the Movie Adaptation Starring Matthew McConaughey

In 2011, The Lincoln Lawyer made its way to the big screen, with Matthew McConaughey taking on the role of Mickey Haller. The movie stays true to the essence of the book, capturing the gritty atmosphere of Los Angeles and the morally ambiguous world of criminal law. McConaughey’s portrayal of Haller is nothing short of exceptional, capturing the character’s suave charm and cunning intellect.

Director Brad Furman successfully translates the tension and suspense of the book onto the screen. The movie’s pacing is excellent, keeping in line with the book version.  Some smaller details are missing, and some smaller details are changed.  The courtroom scenes are well executed, sometimes going on the absurd.

I won’t be going into a line-by-line detail as to the differences, but the biggest is how the book and movie portray Maggie McPhearson. In the book, Maggie is pissed that Mickey will be taking over the case because that means she has to hand it off to another prosecutor. The two won’t litigate cases with each other … although they infer that it might be a conflict of interest, I’m not so sure that it is … although a lot of conflict comes down to how the individual attorneys feel toward each other, in which case it might be a conflict. So maybe it is a conflict if both think it’s a conflict.

But Mickey’s relationship with Maggie and Hayley are the biggest reasons that he took the case with Roulet:

My ex-wife had been right about me, and that’s what hurt. For a long time I had put my law practice ahead of my parenting practice. It was something I promised myself to change. I just needed the time and the money to slow down. I thought that maybe Louis Roulet would provide both.

The other difference is the jailhouse snitch, Corliss. He plays a larger role in the directed verdict part than the movie lets on. Michael Connelly also drops him early in the book, at the first hearing with Roulet, that Corliss learned all of his details from Maggie’s recitation against bail.

If Corliss had been in court, he’d have been privy to all the details he would need to make up a jailhouse confession from my client. Add that to his proximity to Roulet and a jailhouse snitch is born.

The movie also doesn’t fully explain the reason why the judge might rule on a directed verdict. It’s because using Corliss as a witness when knowing he was a snitch and probably wasn’t truthful is something called prosecutorial misconduct.

The last of the bigger differences is at the end, where Mickey is supposed to be suspended from practicing law at the end of the trial. In case you were wondering what happened to him about the gun:

The California bar looked at all of my actions and sent me to a vacation to Cuba. That’s what defense pros call being suspended for conduct unbecoming an attorney. CUBA. I was shelved for ninety days. It was a bullshit finding. They could prove no specific ethical violations in regard to Corliss, sol they hit me for borrowing a gun from my client Earl Briggs. I got lucky there. It was not a stolen or unregistered gun. It belonged to Earl’s father, so my ethical infraction was minor.

Overall, the movie adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer is a worthy companion to the book, capturing the essence of the story while adding its own cinematic flair. McConaughey’s captivating performance, combined with Furman’s skilled direction, makes for a thrilling and unforgettable viewing experience.

While the movie adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer stays true to the core elements of the book, there are some notable differences between the two. One of the most significant differences is the portrayal of Mickey Haller’s character. In the book, Haller is a flawed and morally complex character, driven by a desire for justice but also motivated by personal gain. Haller is also struggling with money, with two ex-wives and a child support payment. None of that struggle was in the movie. McConaughey’s portrayal in the movie leans more towards a likable and charismatic hero, although glimpses of Haller’s darker side still shine through.

Analysis of Matthew McConaughey’s Performance as Mickey Haller

Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer is great. He effortlessly embodies the charm, wit, and cunning that define Haller’s character, bringing him to life in a way that captivates audiences from start to finish. McConaughey’s portrayal strikes the perfect balance between the confident and smooth-talking lawyer and the vulnerable and morally conflicted man beneath the surface.

My only small complaint here was … his accent. Mickey (whose half-brother is Bosch) was born and raised in Los Angeles. 

One of the standout aspects of McConaughey’s performance is his ability to convey the complexity and depth of Haller’s character. Through subtle facial expressions and nuanced body language, he showcases Haller’s internal struggles and the toll that his profession takes on him. Whether it’s a sly smirk or a moment of contemplation, McConaughey’s attention to detail adds layers of depth to Haller, making him a multi-dimensional and relatable protagonist.

McConaughey’s on-screen chemistry with the rest of the cast is also worth noting. His interactions with Ryan Phillippe, who plays Louis Roulet, and Marisa Tomei, who plays Maggie McPhearson, are particularly compelling.

Key Themes and Plot Points in The Lincoln Lawyer

One of the key themes in The Lincoln Lawyer is the moral grounds of being a criminal defense attorney. One of the central themes explored in the book is the concept of morality and the blurred line between right and wrong. Throughout the narrative, Mickey Haller is confronted with ethical dilemmas that force him to question his own principles and the boundaries of his profession. The book challenges readers to examine their own beliefs about justice and the lengths one should go to protect their clients.


In this story line (and also, including the Bosch story line), it’s an us v. them mentality that, quite frankly, doesn’t exist in the real criminal law world. Most criminal defense attorneys were former prosecutors or public defenders. But, most attorneys also know that the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments are real things. Criminal defense attorneys are the gatekeepers into the government’s spiral against throwing everyone into prison.


Is Lincoln Lawyer a True Story?

While the story itself is not real, the Mickey Haller is a combination of two real life attorneys: David Ogden and Dan Daly. Part of the reason that Michael Connelly drew inspiration from real life lawyers is because Mr. Connelly is not a lawyer himself. This makes his legal thriller series one of the only series that was not written by an attorney. 

Why is it Called The Lincoln Lawyer?

Because Mickey Haller drives around in the back of a Lincoln instead of having an office. That’s because he has to run all over the place to get to different hearings. He’s the type of lawyer who lawyers on his feet … or at least, his wheels.

The Impact of The Lincoln Lawyer on the Legal Thriller Genre

The Lincoln Lawyer has had a significant impact on the legal thriller genre since its release. Michael Connelly’s expert storytelling and meticulous attention to detail have set a high standard for future authors in the genre. The book’s success paved the way for a new wave of legal thrillers, with many authors drawing inspiration from Connelly’s gripping narratives and morally complex characters.

Furthermore, the movie adaptation starring Matthew McConaughey introduced The Lincoln Lawyer to a wider audience, further cementing its place as a beloved and influential work of fiction. McConaughey’s portrayal of Mickey Haller brought the character to life in a way that resonated with viewers and helped popularize the genre even further.

My Opinion: Is The Lincoln Lawyer Worth Watching?

The Lincoln Lawyer has left an indelible mark on the legal thriller genre, both in literature and on the silver screen. Michael Connelly’s masterful storytelling and Matthew McConaughey’s mesmerizing performance as Mickey Haller have captivated audiences and earned critical acclaim. The book and the movie adaptation offer a gripping exploration of morality, corruption, and the complexities of the criminal justice system. The Lincoln Lawyer is definitely worth watching.


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