Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen
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Law Abiding Citizen
Director F. Gary Gray
Starring Gerard Butler, Jaime Foxx, Colm Meaney
Rated R
Release date: October 16, 2009

I love stupid mindless revenge movies. Man on Fire, Payback, Taken; pretty much any movie where a guy is driven to kill as many people as necessary in the name of some kind of justice. Most of these movies are not what I would call great movies, but when done well, they’re all fun, and they appeal to a certain part of me that wishes that the kind of uncompromising justice portrayed in these films would work in the real world. The realistic part of me understands that it wouldn’t, but who wouldn’t like to see righteous justice handed down to those who deserve it. Law Abiding Citizen is now resides in a warm place in my heart along with the rest of these films. Is it perfect? Hardly. Does it have plot holes you could drive a truck through? Definitely. Is it going to win any kind of awards? Certainly not. Did I have a fun time watching it? Hell yeah! And sometimes, that’s enough for me.

In the film, Gerard Butler plays Clyde Shelton, a man who is forced to watch his wife and daughter brutally murdered in front of him, and then sees the justice system break down as the man who actually killed his family is given a reduced sentence so that callous District Attorney Nick Rice, played by Jaime Foxx, can keep his high conviction percentage. Unfortunately, Shelton is a very driven man who has the skill, intelligence, and determination to see his revenge through to the end. From there, we get the standard game of cat and mouse, as Clyde continually shows that he is smarter than Rice, as the bodies keep piling up in brutal fashion.

I won’t give too many specifics, as half of the fun is seeing how Clyde will kill the next person in line, but needless to say, there’s the requisite number of twists and turns, shocking events, and the big surprise ending.

The thing about the movie is that it’s not very original in the way it’s laid out. There’s nothing new or inventive brought to the revenge movie genre, so don’t go in expecting the greatest work in film history. That said, while it may not be the most innovative or imaginative film of the year, it does everything just good enough for me to have a good time with it, and forgive any plot holes that may come up. The acting is decent but not mind-blowing. Butler and Foxx are playing pretty standard characters, and they both have enough personality so that you kind of end up routing for both sides to win, which we know isn’t going to happen. The biggest problem the film has is that both of the main characters can be viewed as either a villain or a hero, but the film doesn’t really spend a lot of time exploring that angle, but is just focused on forwarding the plot from one kill to the next. It’s up to the viewer to decide who the hero of the film is, which does make for somewhat of an interesting angle. I just wish that they had spent more time with it; they could have made a more thought provoking entry in the revenge movie genre. The directing by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Negotiator) is serviceable, but unspectacular. The action is easy to follow, which is never a bad thing, but everything feels a little flat. Like I’ve said, everything in the film is done just well enough to keep the film together, without taking the next step to make it great.

So, is Law Abiding Citizen worth your time? Eh, it will definitely be worth the rental when it’s out on DVD. If you need a fun, mindless movie you can do a lot worse. It’s not the most fun I’ve had at a movie this year, but it ranks near the top. One last comment though; Can we have one movie where I don’t have to see Gerard Butler’s ass? I’d appreciate it.

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