The Lincoln Lawyer – Movie Review

The Lincoln Lawyer – Movie Review

Review by Stacey Tuttle

 Mick Haller is a defense lawyer.  His one fear is representing an innocent man.  You see, for a lawyer, a guilty man is kind of a win-win situation.  If you do your job right, he gets off, which is a win for you, literally.  But on the other hand, if you don’t win the case, that’s OK because your client is guilty and he gets his punishment.  Justice is served and you can feel good about that—aka, you still win.  But an innocent man…that is another scenario entirely.  It’s a win-lose situation.  And if you don’t win your case, you lose BIG.  You not only have to suffer your pride, but you also have to live with the guilt that an innocent man is behind bars, somewhat because of you. 

So, of course, Haller finds out that he did represent an innocent man, Jesus Martinez.  An innocent man that Haller assumed was guilty.  An innocent man who has now been in jail for several years because Haller lost the case. 

Now Haller has a new client, Louis Roulet.  And he discovers that Roulet is not only guilty of the crime he is accused of this time, but also of the crime which sent Jesus Martinez to jail as well (and multiple others in between).  And these aren’t just any crimes, we are talking about pretty gruesome murders, just to be clear. 

I don’t want to spoil the ending, and frankly, I don’t find it necessary to do so for the sake of this discussion, so I’ll leave it to you to watch it and see how it plays out, if you are so inclined.  However, I think the dilemma he finds himself in is worth a moment of thought and discussion.

First off, I would like to point out that the innocent man who was convicted of another man’s crime, the innocent man who suffered the penalty of a murderer, was named Jesus.  I don’t think that was by accident.  Of course, it had the Spanish pronunciation (hay-soos), and Jesus isn’t all that uncommon a Spanish name, I grant you.  However, he could have been named Pedro or Paco or Jose…any number of common names, but he was named Jesus in this film. 

There was another man, a real man, who was innocent, convicted anyway, and paid the penalty for the sin of another.  He too was given the punishment reserved for murderers.  He too was named Jesus.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah. 

I wonder if Pilate and Herod both felt a little like Mike Haller.  Pilate and Herod were the governing authorities, kind of like the judges, at the time of Jesus (Jesus of the Bible, not Jesus of Lincoln Lawyer).  I wonder if they too feared convicting an innocent man.  They seemed to.  Both were reluctant to convict Jesus.  Pilate said he saw no guilt in Jesus and sent him to Herod for Herod to deal with.  You see, the people wouldn’t be satisfied without a conviction so Pilate figured if he sent Jesus to Herod, Herod could deal with it so he didn’t have to.  But Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate—he didn’t want to convict him either.  Pilate tried to appease the crowd by having Jesus whipped, but they wanted his death, and nothing short of that would satisfy, so he reluctantly submitted to popular demand.  He washed his hands as a sign that he was innocent of Jesus’ blood, but I don’t think that helped him sleep any better at night.[1]

When Haller begins to fully understand the situation he is in, that he is now representing a cold, calculating murderer…the very one responsible for the crimes Jesus Martinez is now paying for, he finds that his fears have changed a little.  “I used to be afraid I couldn’t recognize innocence.  Now I’m afraid of evil.  Pure evil.”  You see, he not only has the conviction of an innocent man on his shoulders, but in doing so, he unwittingly put himself in the hands of a truly evil man…himself and his family.

I wonder if Pilate felt that way.  I wonder if he felt that he was in the grasp of true evil, of Satan, after he gave Jesus over to be crucified?  Judas, who betrayed Jesus, certainly seems to have felt that way.  He tried to give back the money that he was given when he betrayed Jesus.  Then he hung himself.  There are rumors that Pilate hung himself as well, although his cause of death is inconclusive. 

But here is where the Christian story is so radically, wonderfully different from The Lincoln Lawyer:  Jesus allowed himself, an innocent man, to take the punishment for all the guilt of humanity.  He could have stopped it. 

When Mick Haller allowed an innocent man, Jesus Martinez, to be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he unleashed evil on himself and left it free to run rampant in society (although he didn’t realize this until later). 

When Pilate allowed an innocent savior, Jesus Christ, to be convicted of crimes he didn’t commit, he unleashed salvation unto all of mankind (although he surely didn’t know it). 

Jesus Christ had to die; it was the plan.  He had to pay the penalty of our sins so that we might stand righteous before God. 

Romans 3:22-26

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Questions for Discussion:

  • Have you ever been falsely accused?  Have you ever falsely accused someone else?
  • How do you think Pilate must have felt after having condemned Jesus, who he knew to be innocent, to death?
  • Do you ever fear that you will become so jaded that you won’t recognize innocence when you see it?
  • Have you accepted Jesus’ offer to pay for your sins with his death on the cross?  Someone has to pay.  It’s up to you.  You can pay for them in Hell, or you can accept Jesus’ offer to pay for them with his death and spend eternity in Heaven with your Savior instead, it’s your choice.


[1] Matthew 27, Luke 23