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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Unfair biases within the legal system that favor the powerful should be opposed and can be overcome. Everyone deserves a good, knowledgeable defense attorney, and when someone is innocent of a crime, they should be fought for at all costs.
Positive Role Models
Most of the characters are deeply flawed, and some, like the Roulets -- the main villains -- have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But main character Mick believes in the justice system, in his friendship with Frank, and in the innocence of one of his clients. He also seems to be a loving father.
Despite being set in L.A. County, where almost half the population is Latino, the film only features three Latino characters (all of whom are in supporting roles). Thankfully, even though two of them are labeled "criminals" none are presented as bad people; and the film's major theme of fighting to defend the innocent hinges on the reveal that Jesus Martinez was wrongfully convicted and is eventually exonerated. One of the three Latino characters, Regina Campo, is played by an actor of Russian-Jewish descent (Margarita Levieva). Ultimately, the film portrays the legal system as classist but avoids focusing on race. As for women, two characters are victimized by Louis and generally shown to be helpless. This is somewhat balanced out by the agency displayed (in a negative way) by Mary Windsor, and (in a positive way) by Maggie. Also, Mick and Maggie are divorced but still close and are loving parents for their daughter.
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Violence & Scariness
Three characters are shot -- at least one is killed in an execution-style murder. Many references to violent crimes, and the entire movie is focused on a possible rape, assault, and murder (shown in flashback a few times). A gang of bikers brutally beats up a character. A character threatens another's family. Suspects recall the crimes they've been accused of committing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A formerly married couple flirts with each other on several occasions and sleeps together once. The woman is shown in her bra, and the man is shown in varying degrees of undress, but there's no actual nudity, and the scene is brief. Characters often discuss sex and (usually in a disparaging way) sex work. Two different sex workers in skimpy outfits flirt with potential clients in clubs.
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Language includes a few uses of "f--k," plus "a--hole," "s--t," the occasional "prick" and "p---y," "ass," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," and "goddamn." In one conversation, a character uses the derogatory terms "fag" and "faggot" at least four times.
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Products & Purchases
Several brands are featured or mentioned more than once in the movie, including Mick's titular Lincoln Continental, a client's Maserati and Range Rover, a bike gang's Harleys, Apple computers, a Mustang, and a recognizable brand of vodka.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nearly every scene shows a character drinking (beer, cocktails, hard liquor) -- in a bar, at home, at dinner -- and more often than not, the characters are getting drunk. It's mentioned that Mick is chauffeured around because he lost his driver's license; the implication is that it was DUI related. Both he and his ex-wife drink excessively; they even have sex after they're both fairly drunk. A character asks for a smoke, and another is seen with a pack of cigarettes, but she's not shown smoking them. References to drug use, substance abuse, and rehab.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lincoln Lawyer is a legal thriller starring Matthew McConaughey that's based on Michael Connelly's 2005 novel. It has enough language, violence, and substance use to make it too mature for younger teens. The violence includes everything from murders and a gang beat-down to sexual assaults replayed a few times from different perspectives. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and "a--hole." There's only one actual sex scene (with partial undressing but no nudity) but several references to the act and sex work. This McConaughey thriller is likely too heavy for younger audiences. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
McConaughey's performance as a defense attorney is well-ranged and engaging. In The Lincoln Lawyer, his character is smart and very good at what he does; but he's also lonely and troubled -- the cost of defending the indefensible for so many years. McConaughey looks appropriately awful at times -- he's grieving, haunted, and drunk for the second half of The Lincoln Lawyer -- and it works, strangely enough.
The movie also benefits from a host of veteran supporting actors, from Oscar winner Marisa Tomei as Mick's prosecutor and ex-wife, to Phillippe as the rich boy with an attitude, to the excellent Macy as Mick's PI/best friend. Leguizamo's over-caffeinated delivery is always good for a laugh, and underrated actor Michael Peña gives a scene-stealing performance as Mick's former client who's serving a life sentence for a crime he may not have committed. The twists aren't exactly Presumed Innocent-sized, but they're compelling enough to keep you interested, and with so many good actors walking around, this is one McConaughey movie worth checking out.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.