Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen (18)

Dir. F. Gary Grey

Starring. Gerard Butler/ Jamie Foxx

3/5 stars


Before the opening scenes play out, it is clear that some films aren’t great pieces of art.  They don’t make the viewer think all that deeply, or change their world perspective.  Some films do exactly what they say on the tin. And Law Abiding Citizen is this year’s Ronseal of film releases.

To say that Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is dissatisfied by the justice system is a dangerous understatement.  Following the murder of his wife and child by a duo of ultra-violent house burglars, he waits ten years to extract his own brand of revenge; and when he does, no action is too violent or extreme for him. In simple terms, he is fucked off!

Jamie Foxx is appropriately slick as Nick Rice, the hot shot prosecuting attorney who spends the film being given the run-around by Shelton’s point-proving machinations.  Rice is the ambitious lawyer responsible for the plea bargain that allowed one of the killers to walk free. Not that it matters, all are accountable in Shelton’s eyes.

Law Abiding Citizen is an enjoyable enough film. The carnage that ensues is aggressive and graphic, but that’s what is expected.  Moreover, the violence actually seems to serve the premise of the story well; the story being grossly over the top and self-serving, of course.

The only real gripe with this film is an ideological one; Law Abiding Citizen, just like Harry Brown, is a film that deals in a world of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies.’ The only way it can relay its message is to go to the extreme in all manners concerning narrative. Villains are created so void of redeeming features that heinous and graphic murder is the logical course of action.

Surprisingly, however, as the film progresses and Shelton’s actions become more and more outrageous, the sympathy switches and he, himself, begins to become the villain until he is completely without hope or rehabilitation.

Although the message is somewhat cloudy, if you’re prepared to suspend your disbelief then it works as a piece of aggressive and single-minded cinema, which is what it is; all loud explosions, gunshots and spatters of blood. In many ways, the star of this film is violence itself. So, if you enjoy seeing some of the most creative death sequences of the last 10 yrs, and can lower your expectations for a couple of hours, then this is for you.


About craig shaw

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