Urban Cinefile
"..it's quite painful yet tantalising, seeing myself at age of eight, despite having my wrinkles and double chin!"  -Franco Zeffirelli on making his autobiographical film, Tea with Mussolini
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN

SYNOPSIS:
Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) has nurtured his frustration for a decade after a plea bargain had set one of his family's killers free; now he decides to take justice into his own hands. He targets not only the killer (Christian Stolte) but also Philadelphia district attorney, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and others involved. And even after he's imprisoned, the mayhem continues, infuriating the Mayor (Viola Davis); Rice tries to solve the mystery.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A composite of revenge thriller, police procedural and a dash of torture porn, Law Abiding Citizen has good credentials and a top cast, but the screenplay mashes up its elements and develops as a hairbrained plot without enough character substance. Beginning with a harrowing house invasion and murder, the film flashes forward 10 years to the present, where the survivor, husband and father of the murdered wife and daughter, Clyde (Gerard Butler) is out to balance the scales of justice in his favour as he sees it. The prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) had done a plea bargain deal so one of the two murderers rats on the other and is given a lighter sentence in return. Clyde is angry at the system.

This is already thin motivation for the mayhem that follows, and the screenplay keeps asserting Clyde's moral authority when he doesn't have one. Clyde gets irritatingly smug and psychotically violent. While we felt deep sympathy for him in the opening scene, our feelings towards him soon change. But there is no hero to fit our need for one in this story. We can't quite attach to Nick the nice, either, feeling he might indeed have done the deal to ensure a conviction and keep his talley high, to suit his ambitions. He says as much himself ...

The plot has Clyde engineer some devilish nasty deaths, even while in solitary confinement, which is perplexing - but the reveal of how he does it is perhaps worse than perplexing. So is Clyde's backstory, revealed in a single meeting with a mysterious man in a tunnel.

Director Gary F. Gray is good at maintaining tension, but he can't fudge the many flaws and weaknesses of the script. Like the predictable and schmaltzy ending.

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (MA)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meany, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Michael Irby, Christian Stolte, Viola Davis

PRODUCER: Gerard Butler, Mark Gill, Robert Katz, Alan Siegel, Kurt Wimmer

DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray

SCRIPT: Kurt Wimmer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Sela

EDITOR: Tariq Anwar

MUSIC: Brian Tyler

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex Hajdu

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 28, 2009







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017