The Lincoln Lawyer

What it's about:

Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln sedan. Haller has spent most of his career defending garden-variety criminals, until he lands the case of his career: defending Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy accused of rape and attempted murder. But the seemingly straightforward case suddenly develops into a deadly game of survival for Haller.

What we thought:

They just don't make movies like The Lincoln Lawyer anymore. Recalling his breakout performance as an attorney in A Time to Kill in 1996, Matthew McConaughey brings all the swagger and easy charm to a similar role here, based on the Michael Connelly series of novels about Mickey Haller, a cocky defence attorney who runs his office from the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car.

The assault case seems rather cut and dried when first presented to Mickey. Phillippe channels Edward Norton in Primal Fear as the babyfaced accused who swears by his innocence - but it takes someone as smooth as Mickey to spot the lie behind the smile. Mickey himself is a great character, who deftly tap dances on that line that runs between the law and his duty to his clients. McConaughey hasn't had a role this good in a very long time, and The Lincoln Lawyer goes some way in reminding us why we ever liked him, even as he peppers his CV with forgettable romantic comedies.

Tense and entertaining, The Lincoln Lawyer is the type of legal-eagle drama that's found itself to be better suited on the small screen with successful TV series like Boston Legal and The Good Wife picking up where John Grisham left off. It's quite rare to see a film like The Lincoln Lawyer attract a cast of this calibre - McConaughey and Phillippe are joined by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, William H Macy and Frances Fisher - and they certainly add an air of austerity to plot that we've seen play out many times before.

It's not going to particularly surprise anyone, but the solid writing and memorable performances make The Lincoln Lawyer a worthwhile trip to the cinema - and, incidentally, a great date movie.