The Lincoln lawyer is a slick production with a light touch on a few heavy themes. Loosely following Michael Connelly’s book in the Michael Haller series, The Brass Verdict, the season tells the story of many people; essentially it boils down to how far people are willing to go? Will they cross that line or stop to realise the consequences? How do you regain trust after burning that bridge? It is also naturally, mostly about Michael – what kind of man does he want to be?
The Lincoln Lawyer was created for TV by David E. Kelley, well known for making LA Law, Ally McBeal, The Practice & my favourite, Boston Legal.
Season 1 was released on Netflix in May 2022 to positive reviews. It has been subsequently renewed for season 2.
For those interested in the legal side of games, Adam Caster talks about why Phoenix Wright is a good place to start.
Story: Defending the High Tech Billionaire
Coincidently, The Lincoln Lawyer is shown to be a legal & family drama. Michael “Micky” Haller is starting in reboot mode. Getting back into the “game” after taking personal time off, he is suddenly thrust back into the spotlight when an old acquaintance, Jerry Vincent, has died. Jerry leaves his entire practice to Mickey, prompting him to go in all guns blazing to re-establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in court.
While dealing with now numerous cases, he has a big one which will get him a lot of attention: Trevor Elliot, a well-known video game designer, has been accused of killing his wife & her lover in a jealous rage. This case does become his primary focus but there are plenty of sub plots in these ten episodes to keep us engaged, which have their own ramifications. There is also the murder of Jerry in the background to deal with as well.
I mentioned family. And that would be because Mickey has two ex-wives and a daughter. His first wife, Lorna, is now his assistant/secretary & genuinely keeps everything on his calendar running smoothly. The other is the career driven Maggie MacPherson AKA McFierce, Assistant to the District Attorney, who is shown to be engaged with her own big case while dealing with her boss’s duel for re-election as Governor.
Defending the Man on the Street
The main thing I noticed in this show is that it runs very smoothly, even with a lot going on. You don’t feel overwhelmed with information. This meant It was also good at maintaining momentum, which is even called one of the episodes. With ten episodes, there’s enough time to process small pieces of information which is doled out to you regularly. It was good at making information used in a previous episode relevant to the one you may be watching.
One characteristic I particularly liked was the use of voiceovers by Mickey, whether it was in the car or at the office. It again kept you focused on the finer details, or whatever the story fancied at that time, but they were a nice touch about his character as well.
It took a while but the court case itself is interesting and didn’t feel dry. There was enough witnesses to get through with information that it’s enjoyable to watch and there were a few twists kept to keep you engaged. I usually enjoy watching the exchanges between lawyers and witnesses and how information is teased out.
However, something which occurs to me is that personal information gets glossed over. For example, Mickey took the year out because of an accident which got him addicted to drink & drugs and although the subject is brought up once or twice, considering it’s a heavy theme and very personal, not enough impact was given to this.
Characters & Performances: Solid If Uneven
Overall, everyone is solid with the possible exception being Christopher Gorham who was Trevor Elliott from the main case. I didn’t find him to be empathetic with a good acting range, making him hard to root for. He was mercurial, however this may be the case with rich people. Detective Raymond Griggs, played by Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, was another who was harder to like, although I thought he was fine as an actor. His character is a replacement for Harry Bosch, a major character in the books. This character was purchased by Amazon for his own series of books. Griggs, along with Mickey’s investigator Cisco, were gruff, dry speakers. They were fine to me, but it’s not for everyone.
In going with the fast paced, stylish tone, I enjoyed the rest of the cast, especially Haller’s two ex-wives. They are different stylistically but were enjoyable to watch. You believe they have Mickey’s back. Must admit, it was good to see Neve Campbell back in action, I think she’s an excellent actress. I really enjoyed her portrayal of Maggie McPherson in being a lawyer, especially when there are complications with her case. I also enjoyed her relationship develop with Mickey over the season, as they try to re-establish what it is regarding their daughter Hayley, as well as themselves. His other ex, Becki Newton, has some fire to her as well, and her scenes were generally pretty good.
Our Lead: Michael “The Lincoln Lawyer” Haller
The star of the show naturally had to be Michael Haller himself, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – and he’s fine. He’s certainly likeable, I liked how they brought in his Mexican background for the use of certain language and personal foibles. He can be a bit too nice at times, which begged the question, “how did he fall out with his two ex-wives when they really care for him?” but he had an air of vulnerability while exuding confidence in court. I do believe he plays second fiddle to the women, but I liked him.
There were many small recurring roles within the season and as stated, were all solid if unspectacular. They were good enough to watch, nobody was bad or out of place.
Cinematography & Sound: Breezy & Bright
There were plenty of skyline and open road shots. Plenty of use of indoor spaces – halls, hospitals, offices, courtrooms, bedrooms. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, there was a lot of the glow hue about indoor areas. Los Angeles was also shown off a wee bit, it was nice to see certain areas, a few nooks & crannies that Mickey might know which I liked. The courtroom scenes were nicely done with good camerawork.
Music was nice but nothing out of the ordinary for a lawyer show. Granted, there was use of certain jazz music in the car when Haller was on the move which was a nice change of pace, also in keeping with the personality of the character.
Pacing & Editing: Breezy & to the Point
The show ran at a decent clip considering episodes ranged from 45 minutes to almost an hour. Most scenes were usually 2-3 minutes before moving on. There was a decent camera set up where they showed more than one angle for a scene. It was pretty standard for this kind of show and it was well done. There was enough story to go around, it didn’t feel like it dragged at any point. I appreciated them showing off other people’s relationships, whether it is Mickey with his wives or his daughter or it was directly about the cases involved.