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Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen

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Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years and 4 months ago

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Written Oct. 17, 2009

Grrr... Boy, Gerard Butler is one angry dude. I love it… think about it, it seems like every movie this cat is in he’s either out to draw blood, or revenge or for the most part yelling at someone. As the title character in Dracula 2000,he was out to punish God’s children. In 300, he was out to punish the Persians who tried to enslave his people. In The Ugly Truth, he was out to punish every woman that ever chucked him. And let’s not forget the children’s film Nim’s Island in which Butler was out to punish the hurricane that separated him from his daughter. Well, maybe I exaggerated a bit about the last one, but the guy did yell at Jodie Foster in the film because she chose not to “Be the hero of your own story.” Just what the heck is this man so pissed about? The Scottish native has come a long way, is desired by pretty much all women and has just completed a film with Jennifer Anniston who he reportedly “got involved” with off camera. With her romantic track record, I’m sure we all know how that relationship will end… with Butler getting ANGRY!

Jamie Foxx is known as a super cool dude who doesn't take crap from anybody, yet even he can't help but wince every time Butler yells at him in their latest film Law Abiding Citizen. The Philadelphia based thriller involves the wife and child of Butler's character getting murdered before his eyes by two thugs during a home invasion. When the perps are caught, it looks like a routine slam dunk for the prosecution, but some sloppy evidence puts a damper on the case. Butler blacked out during the assault, not actually witnessing the murders and even though he survived he now has to deal with the nightmare of watching one of the defendants turn state's witness against the other. One will die by lethal injection, the other, who happens to be the most vicious of the duo; will be out of prison in five years. Butler can't believe his ears when Assistant D.A. Foxx tells him this, but it is a judgment call set in motion by the prosecution. Little do they know it's a deal they will all regret as Butler never lacks emotional, physical, and mental power… Grrr…

I’m not sure if it’s due to Stepfather having been so bad or simply a matter of just cause, but I think this film wasn’t bad. There were scenes that dragged a bit, but overall doesn’t take one on a snooze-fest. From the first act all through the end, the sense of “what will happen next” keeps you on your toes and openly makes you wonder about how our judicial system really works. The film embellishes a “case decision” that opens up a world of questioning and although, yes it’s a film, there’s no doubt whatsoever that art does in-fact imitate life. I mean stop and think about all sorts of cases with shady verdicts and the puzzling feeling(s) from those who happen to be victims of circumstance. Only this time around Clyde Shelton (Butler) doesn’t have it and takes matters into his own hands. Thankfully (or luckily) this military special forces training contributes to his master plan(s) and surely declares war among true evil, but no matter how one cuts it, there are laws (or rules) and circumstances follow.

Director F. Gary Gray is no stranger to the action genre having helmed Set it off, The Italian Job and The Negotiator. Like the latter, Law Abiding Citizen is more of a thriller, a battle of wills between Foxx and Butler and Gray does a fine job of giving Kurt Wimmer's story a sense of scope. Foxx may have a presence that commands the screen as well as a great singing voice, but he can't match Butler's tone who sounds as if he eats glass for breakfast. As good as Foxx is, no matter how hard he tries, Butler brings the focus of a scene on himself. He's angry as usual, but he's also patient and smart. A tip from a government assassin reveals that Butler is a brain who once devised solutions and methods to eliminate targets, including, I kid you not, a lethal necktie. He doesn't have to be free from prison to kill people and his mind thinks in such elaborate ways that if he wants you dead, you're dead. It's kind of a fun ride to see just what deathtrap Butler has up his sleeve, exploiting our sadistic side as an audience. Whether his actions are justified remains to be seen since this is just a movie not a moral piece. Once it's revealed just how Butler is doing what he does the picture loses much of its edge, however never loses its demand of sadistic fascination.

A major factor within this film that I found appealing, was when motion sets and you’re going for the ride, you actually think you “know” what might happen next, but turns out pretty surprising as it doesn’t. It’s got lots of revenge-plotted surprises with “gotcha” moments that cause layers of intensity from one scene to the next. This film serves its purpose, entertains, and surprisingly doesn’t fail with performances. Normally a film will have a slacker on screen that comes off “green” (as they say in the business), but this was pretty good. Both Foxx and Butler knew their roles and played it with so much comfort and relaxation, it didn’t fail at any moment.

An interesting watch and layout between right versus wrong.



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