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Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 2 hr. 2 min.

Release Date: October 16th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: F. Gary Gray Actors: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb

“L

aw Abiding Citizen” offers plenty of entertainment value, provided that viewers are willing to accept several remarkably convenient truths. To set up the necessary qualifications for Gerard Butler’s maniacal mastermind, an extraneous stranger simply explains that he used to be a military “thinktank,” utilized for killing up close those the army couldn’t kill from afar. Apparently, this law abiding citizen is the very best at designing complex machinery, engineering weaponry, manufacturing explosives, planning violent offensives, outsmarting the police, and executing a crime spree that brings a city to its knees.

When Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is attacked in his home by two robbers, and his wife and daughter are brutally murdered, hot shot prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is assigned to the case. Caring more for his conviction rate than seeing justice served, Rice offers a plea bargain that allows one of the killers to go free. Ten years pass and Shelton resurfaces to exact bloodthirsty vengeance on not only his family’s killers, but also those who allowed the system to fail him. As time runs out and the body count rises, Nick is forced to play along with Clyde’s mind games in an effort to save countless lives and uncover the true machinations behind his ruthless onslaught.

How does one catch a serial killer who is already behind bars? Clyde’s superior intelligence allows him to orchestrate murders even after being incarcerated in a maximum security prison. Even Hannibal didn’t have hi-tech gadgetry at his disposal; Clyde, however, unleashes a wealth of advanced kill toys. “Law Abiding Citizen” is likely to be compared to both “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven” – films that take the “cat and mouse” scenario to twisted, graphic new heights. The vigilantism, revenge against a flawed justice system, and orchestration of intricate deathtraps aren’t new concepts, but Clyde’s mysterious accomplice brings at least one fresh aspect to the script.

Suspenseful psychological games, clashing egos, hasty negotiations, manipulating the system, and tracking down clues present an intriguing murder-mystery as Rice gets to the bottom of the systematic slaying of government officials. As interesting as it is to watch the bad guy outsmart the good guys, the character development for Clyde doesn’t really start until he’s already clearly the villain. This makes it gradually more difficult to sympathize with his brutal retribution. The predictability of his attacks doesn’t help much either, and the “what ifs” naturally associated with any film that involves unbelievably crafty characters may hinder the lasting affect of his avengement. Additionally, Foxx doesn’t command enough of a heroic role to bolster the side of justice. Even with its flaws, enjoying “Law Abiding Citizen” for its vicarious revenge, excessive violence, and decent thrills certainly isn’t a crime.

– The Massie Twins

 



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