That's the dilemma that Mickey Haller (McConaughey) faces when he takes on his latest case involving Louis Roulet (Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy who has been accused of raping and assaulting a prostitute. Haller is specifically chosen by the Roulet family, presumably because he is a notoriously effective defense attorney whose silver tongue has kept many low-lives out of jail. However, as the case unfolds, it seems as though Roulet's intentions with Haller may be a darker, more calculated move than anyone could have anticipated. Haller's own friends and family, including his estranged ex-wife and young daughter become targets in a meandering maze of lies and deception that may force him to reconsider the repercussions of his trade.
While the film doesn't make any grand, innovative statements to answer its central moral quandary, it does provide a riveting, entertaining trip as we watch Haller ponder it. This is a well-wrought tale that unfolds with near-perfect rhythm as it operates out of several modes; it dabbles in being a character study and a courtroom drama, but, above all, it's a finely tuned crime thriller whose central mystery is actually answered quite quickly and easily. That allows us to move on the more interesting question: what is to be done about it? It's the film's way of answering this question that allows it to excel, as it presents an interesting, unexpected take on the usual courtroom cat and mouse game.
Suffice to say, it takes a cool and suave individual to pull off the work Haller does; even more so when you consider that he operates out of the back of a sedan (hence the title). McConaughey is well-cast and brings all the charismatic qualities needed for the character to work. Within the opening twenty minutes, we see a man who is always on the move, bouncing from one client to the next as he maneuvers them through various legal loopholes. Despite his obvious prominence, he feels like a man of the streets, as he often deals with biker gangs and low-level drug pushers--provided, of course, that they're able to pay. McConaughey is essentially charged with making a man who perhaps does bad things likeable, and he does so with relative ease. He's so brash and lives out his confident courtroom persona (even outside of the courthouse) with such conviction that he essentially talks us into liking him.
Though he is the film's central energy, he is bolstered by a fine