Netflix’s ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ Review: Probably Worth Your Time

Yesterday, Ozark was unseated from Netflix’s top 10 charts in the US by The Lincoln Lawyer, a new adaptation of the famous Michael Connelly books that were turned into a well-received Matthew McConaughey movie in 2011.

Now, it’s a ten episode series minus McConaughey, subbing in Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller instead. And despite some initial skepticism going in, given Netflix’s up and down content quality as of late, I came away from The Lincoln Lawyer pretty satisfied with what I’d seen.

I found The Lincoln Lawyer engaging enough to have me binge all ten episodes in a single day without getting bored. But it’s not so special that I’m going to run around shouting from the rooftops that everyone needs to watch it. It’s a solid legal drama. It reminds me of something you might find on USA back in the day or ABC/NBC.

The Lincoln Lawyer is not procedural, albeit Mickey does have a few “cases of the week” near the beginning. Rather, it’s focused on a single, lengthy case where Mickey unexpectedly inherits all the clients of a murdered colleague, including a video game mogul accused of killing his wife and her lover. The case has links to both the death of the initial lawyer, and eventually, butts heads with a different case, the B-plot that is led by Haller’s first wife, played by Neve Campbell, one of the few faces I actually recognized in this series.

I will say that The Lincoln Lawyer is worth watching because its twists and turns never seem entirely implausible or wholly based on coincidence. And this isn’t “The Killing” where the mystery will drag on and on through future seasons. The central case is wrapped up satisfyingly by the end, and though there is a larger threat looming that will no doubt be dealt with in future seasons (which I expect this show will get, knowing the kinds of things Netflix renews), it never feels like a cheap cliffhanger.

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo deserves as special mention here for his understated portrayal of Haller, one rooted in Mexican heritage and who speaks with an accent, something Garcia-Rulfo has said in interviews was a “risk” they took with him. Hopefully this has more to do with the quality of the actor than some Netflix-demanded algorithm that they wanted a Latino-led show, but regardless, he does a great job here.

The target audience here is a little unclear. In the grand scheme of murder mysteries on streaming services, it’s quite…tame. Almost no violence or sex at all, but a few scattered f-bombs making it technically MA-rated. It seems like it’s casting a wide net among demographics, which I suppose may be one of the reasons it’s sitting on top of the list.

This is definitely not a situation where something is widely watched on Netflix for no good reason (cough, Anatomy of a Scandal), it’s actually a decent series and a worthwhile distraction for a weekend. I don’t think The Lincoln Lawyer will be as much of a breakthrough as say, Reacher recently was for Amazon, a somewhat similarly styled book adaptation, but it’s good enough, and probably will end up being watched enough to get another season, especially with six books worth of source material to draw on for the long term. If the concept is enough to intrigue you at baseline, you’ll probably appreciate the series by the end.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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