“Law Abiding Citizen”: Movie Review (2009)

11/25/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"Law Abiding Citizen"

Directed by F. Gary Gray, written by Kurt Wimmer, rated R, 108 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Michaela Zanello

Directed by F. Gary Gray, “Law Abiding Citizen” is a revenge fantasy whose lofty aim is to make a grand statement regarding the perversion of the American judicial system. Spotlighting the way that justice is not always ensured in a system where it is possible for criminals to manipulate laws to their advantage is an interesting concept, but this film delivers its message in such a way that it comes across as unrelentingly absurd.

At the helm of this anything-for-a-thrill kind of film is Jaime Foxx and Gerard Butler. Foxx plays Nick Rice, a Philadelphia district attorney with a near perfect conviction record, and Butler tackles the role of Clyde Shelton, a family man with a hidden past who is out for blood. The performances of these two actors are the only things this film has going for it, and even these kudos should be taken with a big old grain of salt.

The film opens with Clyde Shelton spending a quiet evening at home with his family when two men break in and brutally murder his wife and daughter. The killers are swiftly apprehended, but for Clyde, justice is definitely not served. A plea bargain is made by the D.A., Nick Rice (Foxx), to get one killer to testify against the other, which essentially makes it possible for one of the murderers to walk away with only a slap on the wrist.

Flash forward 10 years. The execution of the condemned killer goes hideously awry. Soon thereafter, the other murderer winds up butchered in an abandoned warehouse. This is where the film starts to really go downhill. The systematic death scenes of these two characters are intensely crass and so distastefully horrific that some will need to shield their eyes.

After the termination of the second murderer, it doesn’t take long for the police to realize that Clyde is the one who is behind these vicious slayings, and he is quickly arrested. Throughout his incarceration, Clyde is very obliging, even giving Rice a confession, but not without keeping an ace or two up his sleeve. Clyde is no fool, and he makes sure to spill the beans in such a way that doesn’t quite permit Rice to convict him.

See, Clyde has spent years meticulously plotting his revenge, which up until this point still seems justifiable. But as the plot thickens and Clyde starts using gadgets better suited for a superhero movie, such as exploding cell phones and prop guns rigged with paralyzing needles.  As such, it becomes apparent that the plausibility factor has gone out the window. Clyde further exploits the judicial system by getting himself placed in solitary confinement. Now, even behind bars, Clyde continues his reign of terror on those people he discerns to be corrupt or compromised.

So, as the body count continues to rise, so does the absurdity level. Plus, the audience is never quite sure how they are supposed to feel about Clyde. On the one hand, when Clyde seeks revenge on the men who murdered his family, sure, the audience gets where he is coming from, but then, when he begins murdering people simply on the grounds that they work within a flawed system, the sympathy starts to waver.

With a muddled message and a lack of character pizzazz, unless you’ve got 108 minutes of your life that you’d like to waste and some money that you’d like to throw away, do not bother seeing “Law Abiding Citizen."  It should be put under citizen's arrest as it's one colossal disappointment.

Grade: D+

View the trailer for "Law Abiding Citizen" here. Thoughts on the movie?

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  1. William B. said...

    HATED IT! Totally agree with the critic.

  2. foreverfinding said...

    Best movie of the year!!!!!!