“Law Abiding Citizen” review

September 28, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

At The 13th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, I saw “Law Abiding Citizen“, directed by F. Gary Gray.

Director F. Gary Gray didn’t really knock me out with “The Negotiator“. Sure, it’s good. But I felt like he was filming theater. You put Kevin Spacey and Sam Jackson in a room and have them read that script, it’s gonna be good. F. Gary Gray is brilliant at his use of music and editing. After all, he’s a prolific music video director. He didn’t hit me until he’d done “The Italian Job“. That’s when I started to see the director get smarter with shot selection, AND editing. I thought I had seen the best he had to offer with “Italian Job”.

I was completely wrong.

“Law Abiding Citizen” is told from the perspective of two men: Clyde Shelton, played by Gerard Butler, and attorney Nick Rice, played by Jamie Foxx. Two men enter Clyde’s home and brutally kill his family. (there’s a lot of brutal violence in this film.) Nick Rice makes a deal that lets one of the men go free, while the other goes on death row.

Clyde…does not take this well. For ten years, he appears to stay off the radar. Nobody’s heard from him, and everyone has gone on with their lives. The time comes for the man on death row’s execution. There is a mysterious mishap. Afterwards, Nick begins an investigation that reveals — those men weren’t the only ones who chose the wrong man to mess with.

We discover that Clyde Shelton was not your ordinary mild-mannered tinkerer. He is, shall we say, a master of disaster, and proceeds to exact his revenge on not just the men who hurt him, but the entire justice system of Philadelphia. It comes down to being a battle of wits and wills between Clyde and Nick, and it leaves you guessing until the last scene how it’s going to turn out.

The casting of this movie was excellent. Viola Davis as the mayor is brilliant, even through some really interesting ( to put it politely) costume choices. She is clearly in command, and quite believable as mayor. I’ll repeat it here. Somebody give her a movie. She’s a commanding presence. Lela Rochon returns to the screen as Jamie’s wife, and it’s good to see her again. She’s great in this. Hope to see more of her soon. Bruce McGill is more than a co-star in this film. It feels like this role was written for Tommy Lee Jones, but Bruce really makes it his own.

Colm Meany – who you’ll either know recently from films like “Con Air” or TV shows like “Star Trek: TNG” or “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” – was one of the best casting choices of this film. He is great in the scenes with Jamie, and I’m really hoping to see the two work together again.

Jamie Foxx hasn’t taken center stage and controlled a movie as a star like this since “Ray“. In a lot of what he’s done since “Ali“, you get Jamie Foxx calling himself some other character’s name, but you see Jamie Foxx. Few directors have given him the opportunity to really get into the role. This movie allows Jamie to become Nick, and he does so from frame one. If you’re a fan, you’ll love him. If you’ve been wondering what the big deal is…this is worth watching.

Gerard Butler channels a lot of Mel Gibson in this picture. But it works.

If asked to compare this film to anything else F. Gary Gray has done — I can’t. As Jamie has said about him, he doesn’t do “Gary Gray movies”. He has created a body of work where each film stands on its own.

This film stands alone as one of his best.

If you’re a Law & Order junkie, this movie is made for you. I’m not, and I really enjoyed this movie.

DO see this film. It’s in theaters October 16.

Publication: Black Box Office
Author: M Lockhart
Source:]Black Box Office

Press Archives

Press Categories