Movie Review: ‘Law Abiding Citizen’

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 12:00 am.

law_abiding_citizen_postersSummary: After the killer of Clyde Shelton’s (Gerard Butler) family is released on parole, he seeks revenge on all who were involved in the lack of justice for his wife and daughter.

Review: Like many action-revenge movies, Law Abiding Citizen starts strong. The intro scene is always graphic. There is a trigger for why he must take the law into his own hands and before you know it, he is Superman.

Of course, someone who takes the law into his own hands is no original plot. But, in pop movies like these I am not expecting fresh ideas and groundbreaking material. Give me some solid acting, hardcore action and most importantly, a respectably believable plot line and I’m happy. Law Abiding Citizen failed on the believable part, which unfortunately ruined a potentially enjoyable movie.

The director F. Gary Gray is clearly one of the most gifted directors of this generation. I can only assume he started with a messy script and tried his best to make it work. The implausible, like Butler’s character’s laughable demands and epic revenge sequences with no explanations, leave you with a “Huh?” rather than a “Wow!” The man seeking revenge might have been more believable if he was a psychic with X-Men gifts or a god sitting in jail, magically having the power to create chaos behind bars.

The action is good, but the scenarios are so outlandish that it’s hard to enjoy the big explosions. Butler as the family man-turned-psycho is a treat to watch.  Jamie Foxx effectively slips right into his role of the heartless lawyer. Viola Davis, who plays the Mayor of Philadelphia, doesn’t appear until an hour into the movie — you could basically describe her role as a cameo, which was a disappointment. Actually, what might’ve saved the movie is if Viola Davis was the one who was wronged by the justice system and seeking revenge. Ms. Viola could read the back of a Listerine bottle and make it award-worthy!

Law Abiding Citizen is in theaters now.

  • Digg It
  • Delicious


jr Said on

you jamie in you chris tucker in denzel washington you 3 are the best?

MS Said on

I thought the movie was decent. There were confusing parts as you mentioned. I agree that Viola Davis should’ve had a larger part, and I would’ve run miles to see her perform as the person being done wrong. That would be extremely unique as an African American woman taking such clever revenge on a flawed system.

Good review.

Thomas Said on

Are we really thinking of the same actress? Was Viola Davis the one reading the Listerine bottle, which happened to have her lines attached to it? I think the Listerine bottle would have done a better job.

Brad Wiebe Said on

That would have been cool for a person in power to be fighting against “their” system once they recognized its tremendous injustice. Just like it would be cool if congress members had to use Medicare & go to the VA hospital.

Katalin Baranji Said on

The plot very simple: the ultimate revenge.
If your wife and daughter were murdered than every decent husband seeks revenge. The revenge should be delivered by the law. Since we are leaving in a society, and we signed a ‘social contract” than we agree that we transfer the judgment to that society.
This movie’s conflict was very real: the bargain between the prosecutor and one of the perpetrators. One of them will get mild punishment if he gives a testimony against the other. This is a classical case if you do not have enough or usable evidence and the prosecutor wants to succeed, like in this movie, to make his conviction record more perfect.
This movie contains a lot of fictional element, but it is just the surface. You have to scratch it to find the real meaning: the law system does not provide punishment to the guilty; it has its intrinsic flaws. These flaws can be objective (the letter of law itself) and subjective (the character of the prosecutors, lawyers, judges etc.).
One of the movie main characters (Gerard Butler) is the ‘law abiding citizen” who has the intellectual and financial means to plan and execute an almost perfect revenge, which could pull down the whole justice system. The scope of revenge is not decided from the beginning: it can be stopped after the murderers die horrible death. But the prosecutor (Jamie Foxx) cannot let it go, he wants to follow the letter of the law, cannot let the killer go free, at least not in this case.
This movie contains a lot of fantasy like elements: it is extraordinary in the means of revenge (but who wants to watch a mediocre story?). The performance of the actors are so excellent, they make this unbelievable story reality.
I recommend watching this movie for everybody, who thinks the society is out of control: it cannot punish the guilty or keep the constitution. Do not be discouraged by bad critics.

Heidi Said on

Absolutely agree about Viola Davis. She embodies the level the movie should have risen to. Her amazing ability and presence instantly put the rest of the movie to shame.