Well, I’m humbled and a little embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed this movie. You see, before I actually started reviewing movies, this is exactly the type of film that would cause me to turn up my nose. I’ve made an earnest attempt to go outside my comfort zone, and damned if I am not pleasantly surprised every once and a while. All I knew about this film was that it starred Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. I’m not exactly a big fan of either.
Law Abiding Citizen is a bloody, sick, and twisted tale of revenge. What if you crossed a gruesome revenge movie like I Spit on Your Grave with a implausible, tech-savy caper like Mission Impossible? Why, you would get something like this film. Suspend your logic and enjoy the ride. Wholly original, Law Abiding Citizen had me on pins and needles, and there are enough twists and turns to make even the most jaded movie-goer giddy.
Let’s get my disclaimer out of the way so we can get down to the business of reviewing the movie:
*This is a hard, hard, hard R rating. Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 has nothing on this bloodfest. Take heed, and leave children under 17 at home. This is seriously some disturbing stuff, and if you go thinking this is a typical thriller, you might lose your lunch. Please don’t take your kids. *
Now, a spoiler free synopsis. The film opens with one of the most horrifying opening sequences I can recall, ever. Clyde (Gerard Butler) and his family get brutally attacked by two thugs when Clyde answers the door of his house. Bound and gagged, he looks on helplessly as his wife and child are murdered. It is a truly harrowing sequence. The next scene shows a smug District Attorney (Jamie Foxx) making a plea deal with the assailant, much to Clyde’s dismay.
Flash forward ten years, and one by one, people associated with the case start meeting untimely and grisly deaths. The deaths are orchestrated à la Seven or Saw, with completely implausible scenarios in which every little detail must be planned well in advance. It’s a given that almost nothing in the film could ever actually happen. If want to enjoy the movie, you ought not do too much thinking during your viewing.
There are lots of convenient plot devices, including Clyde’s background. He also manages to study the legal system extensively when he is not setting intricate booby traps, and therefore is able to throw around enough legalese in the courtroom to bamboozle the judge and all the lawyers in the courtroom. It’s a hoot.
The film throws out a few ideas about the inconsistencies of our broken justice system, in particular, that we are so busy protecting the rights of the accused that we often tread on the rights of the victim. Let’s face it though, that is not the reason to see this movie.
It’s a wild ride and I had fun watching it, even though it was completely absurd.
Recommended if you liked I Spit on Your Grave, Seven, or Death Wish
**On a side note, I found the movie to be an interesting social experiment. One of the first scenes is every bit as sick as anything in Hostel, but because the bad guy has it coming, you don’t feel as queasy about it. Audience members were even clapping and cheering at some of the scenes of torture. I was pretty shocked that the cowboy hat-wearing crowd was so bloodthirsty. So if I go see Hostel, I’m sick, and its torture porn. But if the bad guy deserves it, its a thriller. Interesting.