Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Lincoln Lawyer

Another of the American dream myths is the Lincoln Lawyer in which unscrupulous and amoral operators can be made to change their spots by a sudden bolt on insight into their iniquity. This time the proposition is that because everyone is entitled under the rule of law to have the allegations against them tested in open court it is morally defendable to use wealth and power, including wealth and power criminally obtained, as well as the laws procedures and precedents and the adversarial system to get the blatant guilty off. From my experience in the UK British lawyers have a sense of right and wrong and will not contest cases where the their any admission of guilt but in those instances concentrate on putting forward any genuine evidence in mitigation and for seeking mercy. I do not know the extent to which the sharp shooting money making amoral street lawyer is a Hollywood created myth but the number of times the story of the Lincoln Lawyer has been told, my instinct tells me it is not.

In this instance Mickey Heller is asked by a bondsman, always shady characters in Hollywood films along with Bounty Hunters to make money loaning you the instant cash to make bail, to take on Louis Roulet Beverly Hill playboy son of a wealthy and powerful property family. Louis is accused of brutally beating up a young woman who he claims picked him up in a bar. He claims that on arrival at her flat he had been hit on the head and recovered to find himself being pinned down by two neighbours of the woman who she had called for help. He and his dominating and pushy mother claimed he had been set up and that this was a shakedown. He would not pay up or plea bargain for a crime he did not commit and is most convincing about his innocence.

To soften his image as a rule exploiting and bending bastard who will do anything for money Mickey has a beautiful young daughter whose care he shares with his ex wife who is also physically beautiful with an adorable personality who appears to have an ongoing relationship with the hotman, you know what I mean, and Mickey is otherwise monogamous and dedicated to his dubious trade. The basic flaw in this film is that there no justification why Mickey is as he is when it comes to the way he operates his trade. And guess what his ex wife is a prosecutor and her main beef is the way he gets arseholes off or plea bargains?

Now this is where the film also tries to draw a line between the really nasty devil villains and OK villains in that one of Mickey’s roles is to get some drug pushing, minor violent bikers from facing the full force of the law for their crimes. Instead of coming to his office they tend to drive up the free way in formation and direct him to a siding where they can put their beef to him. I cannot remember or care if it was one of bikers that Mickey had persuaded to plea bargain for life in exchange to the electric chair for a murder he insists he did not commit or how Mickey comes to the view that it was his client who had committed the original murder and was therefore also guilty of the brutal assault.

Mickey is able to get hold of a copy of the police file only to find that suspecting this is his modus operandus they have not included the photo of the knife which the perpetrator had used on the face of the victim with a jagged blade and unique handle and which belonged to Louis. He then realises that this knife was used in the previous crime and that the man he persuaded to plea guilty and plea bargain was innocent

It is at this point that Mickey finds that he has allowed himself to be a patsy for having yielded to the bondsman request for a fee for telling Mickey about the arrest of Louis when he finds that Louis and his mother had had Mickey and asked the bondsman to contact Mickey because they were aware he had been involved in the earlier case. By appointing Mickey they were aware he could not use the earlier info against his client which the man now admits he was guilty of both crimes but tightens his hold on Mickey by threatening to harm his daughter and ex wife if he does not keep his mouth shut.

Mickey uses his private investigator buddy to try and find out anything they use to nail Louis and then the private investigator is murder by a historical weapon which Louis has stolen from Mickey’s home after breaking in to confront the lawyer. The expendable use of Private I’s was brought home when I caught the tail end of a Gregory Peck film where he is a scientist who develop amnesia after he believes he is the cause of the death of his employer and family friend. He hires a Private Eye to try and find out his background and the man is murdered by those seeking to kill Peck.

Back to the Lincoln Lawyer who finds an answer phone message from the private eye which leads to evidence which could convict Louis of the earlier murder. What Mickey the does and is in fairness the unique aspect of the film which makes the production worthwhile. He uses all his established tricks to successfully get Louis acquitted but in doing so introduces evidence drawing attention to the murder and with the finding of guilt he is free to assist the police and DA with the evidence secured by the private eye for Louis to be immediately rearrested. This brings the wrath of the mother who has known all about her sons nocturnal cravings. It is she who has murdered the detective and it is she who now attempts to kill Mickey with the same weapon. Fortunately he has secured a gun of his own from his driver who he employed having lost his licence so although wounded he survives and in hospital learns that the man he persuaded to go to prison has been released and that the DA is going for the death penalty on Louis.

The film is based on a novel by Michael Connelly which is not and never will be on my list to read. Both young women were prostitutes with the latter who survived charging $400 a time. There is a red hearing of one of her clients on whom Louis attempts to put the blame which was the situation in relation the client he persuaded to plead guilty and who Louis had effectively frame for the previous murder, and no doubt countless others.

Just when one thinks that Mickey is about to mend his ways and get back with his wife and daughter now that he has seen the light he meets up with the bikers who want his help in another hopeless cause and who request a half price job because of their help in a way I cannot also now remember. Mickey shows that he really is a good guy by taking the case pro bono. However this was not the worst film of the week.

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