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LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009) ***1/2 movie review by COOP

Posted on October 21st, 2009
Posted on October 21st, 2009


I’m making this a quick one as I’m working on some independent film projects and Dark Side is brewing up some horror movie goodness for you guys.

The film gets off to a quick start as Clyde (Gerard Butler) watches as two thugs break into his house, render him immobile and kill his wife and little girl within the first 2 minutes of the movie.  Months later, hotshot prosecutor Nick (Jamie Foxx) calculates that the offenders will get off unless he cuts a deal.  Distraught, Clyde waits 10 years and then gets his revenge on the two killers in very creative ways.  He allows himself to be caught and informs Nick that his revenge is not complete.  Suddenly, Nick’s friends, colleagues and anyone else responsible for the miscarriage of justice start dying in a series of unexplainable assassinations.  Nick must match wits with Clyde to save the city from a desperate man who is obviously not who he seems. 

The excellent script is penned by Kurt Wimmer (director of Equilibrium) who understands the concept of a clever story structure.  With a story that leaves you guessing until the end, Law Abiding Citizen recalls this year’s more recent release Taken as a satisfying revenge thriller.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite as satisfying as Taken for a few reasons.

First of all, Jamie Foxx’s character is no fun to root for.  He’s unsympathetic and self-righteous all the way until the end and even when Clyde’s plan goes too far, I wanted to see Foxx get iced.  Clyde is right, Nick is a ladder-climbing bureaucrat who is mainly concerned with high conviction rates.  That’s the other problem, Clyde goes so out of control that by the end, the viewer loses all sympathy for him and it negates the purpose of the story.  Thus, the ending – while clever – is not what the viewer would care to see.  I felt it was leading up to something a bit more profound, but in the end Clyde is merely a villain.  A mad dog that needs to be put down.  Kinda like Old Yeller I guess.  Butler proves he’s usually the most interesting thing in any movie he stars in and I’d like to see him play a legit villain (other than his cheesy Dracula 2000) in the future.  I’m happy he upstaged Foxx who seems more overrated with each role he takes.

I’d say the movie was pitch-perfect until the third act and I suspect a more dynamic director than F. Gary Gray (although he did pull off The Negotiator and The Italian Job remake) could’ve plugged the holes. 

Not a bad film, but I prefer Taken and I’ll be eagerly awaiting Taken 2 or whatever they decide to call it. 

This song shoulda been in the film, but it wasn’t…

-C

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