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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Law Abiding Citizen


Most good cat-and-mouse thrillers have two very important ingredients: some decent thrills and a good cat and mouse. That’s where Law Abiding Citizen suffers. Sadly, this film only really succeeds on one level, that of violent, popcorn-fuelled escapism. And even then, if that’s what you crave, you can find better than this.

Clyde Shelton (Gerald Butler) gets a pretty raw deal at the film’s beginning. Following the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, Clyde is thirsty for justice. But after a unfair deal is cut by district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), Shelton is left spending the next ten years devising a savage revenge plot to bring the killers, the lawyers involved and pretty much the entire justice system to their knees.

Butler is, at very least, entertaining to watch. His effort is admirable, with some moments of devilish charm, but he never manages to pull off the Hannibal-esque menace he aims for. But at least you can see him trying. Foxx seems elsewhere, probably thinking about all his paychecks for the shitty movies he has been in lately, rather than his character. Not that his character is very likeable anyway, leaving us with the difficult choice of either the murdering psychopath or the arrogant lawyer to root for.

There’s not much to root for in the direction department either. Struggling to build the tension, director Gray throws gratuitous gore around like it is currency. But without the necessary dramatic build, it feels pointless in its extremity. Seemingly finding difficulty with fleshing into the suspenseful revenge thriller it craves to be, the film resorts to torture-porn shock tactics instead. Law Abiding Citizen isn’t all bad though. There are some decent rants on justice from Butler and I couldn’t help but spend the film’s duration throwing guesses at the identity of his outside accomplice. But whatever merits the film had accrued were undone by its preposterous twist; so ridiculous it borders on insulting.

If you are keen for some late night throwaway entertainment and would like to see a woman’s head blown up by her own cell phone, line up for this one. Otherwise, avoid.

Law Abiding Citizen
Director: F Gary Gray


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