‘Law Abiding Citizen’: savagely raising Cain

October 15, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

Even during its most preposterous circumstances, “Law Abiding Citizen” keeps us intrigued with a creepy vibe. That the latter is so easily provided by the “good guy,” as portrayed by the usually affable Gerard Butler, something’s gotta give in the viewer’s mind, if not in the film’s mixed messages and incredibly violent images.

The whole shebang begins with Butler’s Clyde Shelton in loving conversation with his cute daughter. Minutes later, she and her mom are left dead after a brutal, two-hoodlum home invasion that is mostly perpetrated by the legitimately evil Clarence Darby (Christian Stolte).

Ten years later, Darby’s back on the streets as part of a highly questionable plea deal originally designed by politically motivated assistant DA Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx).

Naturally, the deeply scarred Shelton is . . . well, pretty ticked, and not only because he never played along with the shady legal deal in the first place.

So, what’s a man who to do, especially such a brilliant one, who has been stewing in revenge mode, as much against his family’s killers as the alleged justice system that failed him? Darby certainly doesn’t stand a chance against him, but what about the rest of Philadelphia?
It’s left to Rice’s to protect the city — whose mayor is played by the always sensational Viola Davis — and seemingly everyone else in town from the once law-abiding citizen and now genius serial killer. With a loving wife (Regina Hall) and beautiful daughter (Emerald-Angel Young) of his own, Rice also might not have to look so deeply inside himself to determine what makes Shelton unleash such mayhem on the world.

Well, maybe Rice should have pondered those possibilities a decade earlier. Of course, then Shelton would not have gone on his rampage, and writer Kurt Wimmer (“Street Kings”) and director F. Gary Gray (“Be Cool”) would not have grabbed the opportunity to deliver such an emotionally charged thriller. Besides, as the movie warns, you can’t fight fate.

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