The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Screenplay Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller

Movie Time: 118 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

Sleazy lawyer Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) will represent anyone. When he discovers that he was requested by rich defendant Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), he takes the assault case without blinking an eye, and makes sure to charge his new client top dollar. (00:15:30)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)           

By his own admission, the only dirt on Roulet is parking tickets. Haller tells Frank Levin (William H. Macy), his best friend, that his father always said: the scariest thing is an innocent man, because the only plea is “not guilty,” and if you fail, you have to live with having put an innocent man behind bars. But after getting the discovery list from the D.A., it’s revealed that Roulet’s personal knife—engraved with his initials—was the weapon used in the crime. Maybe he’s not so innocent after all. (00:34:06)           

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

Haller, while reviewing crime scene photos, notices a similarity to his current Roulet case and an old murder case that he lost. Now suspecting that his past client Jesus Martinez (Michael Peña) was actually innocent, Haller confronts Roulet, who admits to the earlier murder with a smile—he’s protected under attorney client privilege. And Haller’s worst fear has come true: he’s responsible for putting an innocent man behind bars. (00:57:45)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

A witness for the D.A. tells the jury details about the earlier murder that Roulet told him while they were in jail together. It doesn’t matter if Roulet gets off for the assault because he’ll be arrested for murder. Now Haller can win the case (at least morally) without a guilty verdict. (01:33:25)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Even though the cops don’t have enough to hold Roulet, Haller has found key evidence that places him at the murder scene. But what Haller didn’t expect was for Roulet’s mother (Frances Fisher) to be involved. Hiding in Haller’s house, she shoots Haller, revealing that she was the one who killed Haller’s friend Frank for finding the dirt on her son. But before she can finish the job, Haller shoots back, killing her. He survives and his earlier innocent client goes free. (01:49:24)


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