There are many things to like about Law Abiding Citizen including both Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler’s performances, direction by F. Gary Gray, cinematography by Jonathan Sela and a rather taught and suspenseful screenplay by Kurt Wimmer.
The movie follows Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler), a family man whose wife and daughter are brutally murdered in front of him while he lies helpless during a home invasion. When the killers are caught, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), an ambitions Philadelphia prosecutor, is assigned to the case.
Nick offers one of the suspects a light sentence in exchange for testifying against his accomplice. Sadly, it’s not the guy who did the actual killings but his accomplice that goes to jail. The real killer goes free.
Cut to 10 years later, the man who got away with murder is found dead and Shelton, without remorse, admits his guilt. Then he issues a warning to Rice: Either fix the flawed justice system that failed his family, or more people will die in the name of real justice.
Even with an interesting premise such as this, the movie suffers from a rather improbable plot twist and takes an unnecessary turn. A thriller about a man pushed to his limits by the death of his family and what he would go through for revenge in the name of justice would have been more than interesting enough.
We don’t really need the added plot “twist’ of him being a former CIA agent who’s “the best” at planning the demise of people. This happens around the hour mark and the film spends the rest of its running time trying to redeem this awkward development.
Possibly the filmmakers thought this would escalate the movie into some other category but all it does is stretch the limits of credibility and make this film far worse than it should be. Or, it could have been a concession to the studio so audiences could “get” how he could accomplish his revenge. Either way, it took me out of the movie when it happened and it took me some time to get back into it.
Unfortunately, this promising film is also marred by its ending, which also seems very unlikely and in many ways betrays the very world that was already established. Perhaps the ending was supposed to be ironic, but instead it felt tacked on and more a “Hollywood” ending than anything motivated by character.
Fortunately, even with its flaws, Law Abiding Citizen is still interesting and fun to watch and the Blu-ray treatment of the film is done exceptionally well. The technical aspects of the transfer are first rate and the release provides several interesting extras.
The two-disc Blu-ray edition also includes bonus features such as audio commentary by producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel and extras such as “The Justice of Law Abiding Citizen,” “Law In Black and White – Behind the Scenes,” “Preliminary Arguments – Visual Effects of Law Abiding Citizen,” “The Verdict – Winning Trailer Mash-Up” and the theatrical trailer and Sneak Peeks.
The Blu-ray edition also features the theatrical cut and the unrated director’s cut of the film, with 11 minutes of previously unseen footage. However, the director doesn’t provide any audio commentary himself, which is an unfortunate omission and something I was expecting in this release. It also have been nice to hear his explanation and the motivation behind the aforementioned plot “twists.”
Law Abiding Citizen, like many movies produced today, is not perfect and has flaws and plot holes. Still, even with its flaws, the film delivers on many levels and includes one of the most interesting villains seen in movies lately.
Butler’s performance is terrific and his cold detachment and single minded pursuit of justice make for a compelling performance. The supporting cast, led by Colm Meaney and Bruce McGill also turn in good performances here as well. If you enjoy these types of films and are looking for a good way to spend 118 minutes, Law Abiding Citizen could be a good way to go.
The Law Abiding Citizen Blu-ray edition hits stores on February 16.