Law Abiding Citizen * 1/2

Genre: Action Thriller

Director:  F. Gary Gray

Writer: Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb

Running Length: 108 minutes

Synopsis: Engineer Clyde Shelton’s (Gerard Butler) wife and young daughter are brutally raped and murdered before his eyes when burglars break into their home. However, the assistant DA assigned to the case, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), decides to preserve his 96% conviction rate and makes a deal with one of the two burglars – testify against his partner in crime and he gets a much reduced sentence. Clyde is enraged at this miscarriage of justice, but he patiently plots for the next ten years, setting up an epic revenge on everyone involved – be it the burglars, the judge, the DA and Nick himself. Surprisingly, even though Clyde is quickly incarcerated, the revenge killings continue unabated…

Review: Verisimilitude has never been a very important criterion for rating movies in my book, but I draw the line when suspension of disbelief becomes impossible, and the sheer stupidity of the script overshadows everything else that make up the movie. Law Abiding Citizen is one such film.

Law Abiding Citizen starts out quite well, and even though the “justice kills” are quite graphic and feel almost at home with the Final Destination series, there’s some (admittedly twisted) pleasure in seeing the “bad guys” get their comeuppance in these convoluted, unorthodox ways.

However, these machinations become increasingly preposterous, and it is simply impossible to believe that a single man, even if not incarcerated, could have been capable of setting everything up with such precision. It is also frustrating to see a character like Shelton, who is supposed to be extremely intelligent, behave stupidly just to advance the plot.

The denouement, in particular, feels very unsatisfactory because it hinges on Shelton being particularly dumb, and I for one found it impossible to accept the turn of events (no spoilers for what happens, even though a scene in the trailer actually gives part of the conclusion away).

The exchanges between Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler are also rather insipid, and Jamie Foxx’s character seems to be a cop first then a DA, probably as an attempt to beef up the action sequences in the film. However, this leaves Law Abiding Citizen in a state of limbo, as the action sequences still aren’t all that exciting, and yet the supposed intellectual exchanges aren’t very interesting either. This is a movie that would have probably been better if it tried to do less, but as it is, Law Abiding Citizen simply isn’t a very compelling movie in any way.

Rating: * ½ (out of four stars)


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