Depending on what your instincts tell you about the meaning of life — happiness, usefulness, recognition, something else — Matthew McConaughey is either a hero or a waste of space. Rarely has an actor seemed so aggressively disinterested in doing good work, but so tickled to be having a good time while making a lie of “no shoes, no shirt, no service” signs the world over. Matthew McConaughey is no striver, for good or ill, and after a highbrow start (Contact , Amistad) his résumé reflects that. His last even nominally serious movie was 2006’s We Are Marshall, which was really more Hallmark-ian than serious, and before that 2002’s Reign of Fire . (So serious its plot synopsis is “A brood of fire-breathing dragons emerges from the earth and begins setting fire to everything, establishing dominance over the planet.”) Now, however, comes The Lincoln Lawyer, in which McConaughey plays a Beverly Hills defense lawyer, who reps Hell’s Angels and a lady-beating Ryan Phillippe alike. (Phillippe’s character says he didn’t do it, but then the trailer pretty much tells us that he did. Who knows.) The latter case may give McConaughey’s character a crisis of faith, or it may just be an excuse for him to carry a gun and talk to William H. Macy’s super-sweet mustache. The trailer is way overwrought, but it’s still the most serious project McConaughey’s undertaken in years. We hope this doesn’t mean he’s lost his way.