As devoid of spontaneity as a D.A.'s defense strategy, this adaptation of fiction machine Michael Connelly's 2005 legal thriller is both convoluted and completely predictable, which fans at least should appreciate. The title refers to Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey), an L.A. ambulance chaser who conducts business from the back of a Town Car commandeered by his faithful driver, Earl (Laurence Mason, the only African-American in the cast—are we to believe there are no black law professionals in California?). Haller is handed a high-profile case defending a real estate mogul (Ryan Phillippe) accused of beating up a prostitute, but while Richie Rich maintains his innocence, things aren't...well, you know how these things go. Haller craftily finagles his way out of the deep shit he's stepped in to during the best stretch of the movie, but it's largely undercut by uninspired direction, car-commercial art direction, and a lack of grit that makes the hidebound nature of the genre stand out like an episode of Matlock on HBO. At least McConaughey is game; he generally acts as if he's getting away with something nobody can prove anyway, so playing a smooth-talking Southland shyster may be the role of his life. Sequels await, Slick.
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