This is a film adaptation of Michael Connelly’s 2005 novel by the same name. Michael Connelly is an acclaimed mystery writer, and I had hopes that this film would surpass my jaded expectation of a film adaptation of dubious quality. Fortunately, the film was interesting and held my attention, and despite its two hour playtime, didn’t feel long at all.
The movie chronicles the career of Michael “Mick” Haller (Matthew McConaughey), a defence lawyer who works out of his Lincoln sedan. He takes on mostly small-time cases, and has a few repeat customers, such as Eddie Vogel’s (Trace Adkins) bike gang. This changes, however, when he receives a lead for a high-profile case from his associate Val Valenzuela (John Leguizamo). His job is to prove wealthy realtor Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) innocent of attempted rape and murder. Roulet asserts his innocence and insists on a trial right away, claiming he’s been setup by a prostitute who wants to sue him in civil court.
Mick and his investigator Frank Levin (William H. Macy) begin pouring through Roulet’s and his accuser, Reggie Campo’s (Margarita Levieva) statements and begin noticing discrepancies in both cases. Mick admits to his ex-wife (Marisa Tomei) that he fears he won’t be able to tell an innocent man from a guilty one, a horrific mistake in his line of work.
Mick’s personal and professional integrity are to be tested by his realization that not only did he convince an innocent prior client Jesus Martinez (Michael Peña) to plead guilty to rape a murder, but, in fact, Roulet is guilty of both crimes. Now, he must find a way to bring Roulet to justice, free Martinez and prevent himself from being disbarred. The plot thickens further when he is framed for the murder of his investigator, Frank Levin.
The trial is a battle for Mick on many fronts. The overt battle is with the prosecutor Ted Minton (Josh Lucas). The second, unseen and subtle, battle is of wits with Louis Roulet himself. Theirs is a standoff of subtexts and innuendo, knowing and not knowing at the same time. The tension and suspense in these scenes is amazingly well done. Mick realizes at the end that what he truly fears is pure evil, and works to ensure the safety of his family in the fallout of the resolution of the trial.
This film was very well put together, the plot elements were coherent, and the casting was well done. The plot had many twists, as expected by a film of this genre, and I enjoyed how it examined the conscience of a lawyer and the limits of client confidentiality.