Law Abiding Citizen review (blog)

October 20, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

When two men break into his house, kill his little girl, and rape and murder his wife, Clyde Shelton(Gerard Butler) is positive that the justice system will put both men behind bars and essentially on death row. However, when the police botch the forensics on the case, suddenly the evidence isn’t conclusive. Clyde pleads with his attorney Nick Ross(Jamie Foxx) who has a 96% conviction rate to make things right but instead, Rice makes a deal with one of the criminals, Clarence Darby, who actually was responsible for the rape and murder. Darby agrees to testify against his partner who receives the death penalty while Darby gets off in three years.

Ten years later Rupert Ames, Darby’s partner, is facing his penalty of death by lethal injection. Before he is injected, Ames states that he did not kill anybody and that the wrong man was dying that day. As Ames is lowered down, the chemicals are systematically injected into his body. Due to changes in the chemicals, Ames dies a horrific and painful death. Police discover that on one of the chemical bottles is etched “You can’t escape fate”, a phrase Darby said to Clyde when he was in his home and the same thing he said to Ross during his trial. Police find out where Darby lives and move into arrest him.

Darby escapes the police thanks to a mysterious phone call from a stranger who tells Darby to find a cop car with an officer inside that the stranger has incapacitated. Darby is then told to go to an abandoned warehouse. Once there, the police officer reveals himself to be Clyde who, through a clever device in his phony police gun, injects Darby with a toxin which paralyzes his whole body yet still allows him to feel pain. Clyde then straps Darby to a table and begins to slowly dismember him while he videotapes the act. The police find Darby, who had been cut into 25 pieces, in the warehouse which they discover belongs to Clyde. The police immediately go to Clyde’s house and find him in his study naked and surrounded by books on engineering and law.

Rice comes to the prison where they are holding Clyde and interrogates him after complimenting him on taking care of Darby. Rice thinks he has a confession from Clyde until Clyde points out that none of what he said was a confession at all, at least not a confession that can be proven in court. While Rice is interrogating Clyde, the DVD of Clyde murdering Darby is sent to Rice’s house. Rice’s daughter Denise, thinking the DVD is the one of her Cello recital, watches the horrific murder. Clyde does, however, agree to making a real confession under the condition that an expensive, special mattress be put in his cell. After being ordered to do so, Rice agrees to have the mattress put in Clyde’s room. When Clyde is in court the following day, he begins to throw multiple, obscure legal precedents at the judge, the same one who oversaw Clyde’s case for his family, trying to get his confession and refusal for bail thrown out. As the judge is about to set bail, Clyde goes on a rant about how the judge was about to let him go, just like she did for Darby.

When Rice meets with Clyde the next day, Clyde confesses to killing Darby, even going into the gruesome detail of what tools he used. When Rice begins to leave again, Clyde begins to confess to another murder, the murder of Bill Reynolds, the attorney for Darby in his case.Clyde informs Rice that Reynolds is alive and that he will tell them where he is in exchange for an expensive steak dinner delivered at precisely 1:00 pm along with his iPod so he can listen to music. Despite his demand, the Warden of the prison intentionally lingers, giving Clyde his dinner at 1:08 pm. Clyde gives Rice a set of longitudes and latitudes and after a 15 minuet helicopter ride Rice lands in a field with Reynolds’ briefcase. Rice and Detective Dunnigan(Colm Meaney) begin to dig finding a steel case with Reynolds inside, dead. Reynolds was hooked up to oxygen tanks which expired at precisely 1:15 pm. Reynolds would have survived had the warden been on time. While everybody is gone looking for Reynolds, Clyde takes the t-bone from his steak and stabs his cell mate in the neck multiple times, killing him, and placing Clyde in solitary confinement.

Rice, along with District Attorney Cantrell(Bruce McGill), meet a CIA operative who informs the two men that Clyde is a “brain” with the CIA. Clyde creates complex tools and gadgets and figures out ways of killing high profile and untouchable targets without even being near them. The operative tells Rice and Cantrell that if Clyde wants them dead then they are already dead and the only way to stop him is to walk into his cell right now and put a bullet in his head. When Rice confronts Clyde again, he tells him that this isn’t about revenge, but that it is about the failure of the justice system and Rice’s personal failure at keeping his word. While still behind bars, Clyde manages to keep killing people associated with his family’s trial, including the judge who Clyde killed with her own cell phone. Clyde tells Rice that if he isn’t set free with all charges dropped by 6:00 am then he is going to kill everybody in the DA’s office.

All of the office workers congregate at the prison, intensely awaiting for 6:00 am to come. When the time comes and goes, everybody begins to leave thinking it was all a hoax. While in the parking lot, multiple car bombs explode killing most of the DA office workers, including Rice’s assistant Sarah Lowell(Leslie Bibb). Puzzled about how Clyde is still committing murders from behind bars, Rice suggests that Clyde has an accomplice. While leaving the funeral of Sarah and the other staff members, a remote army drone armed with anti-tank weaponry opens fire on the SUV carrying DA Cantrell. Shot multiple times and bleeding, Cantrell is still alive until the drone fires a rocket at the car, blowing it up and killing Cantrell.

After the funeral and the attack on DA Cantrell, Rice receives an e-mail from a friend of Sarah. The e-mail reveals the location of a piece of property Clyde owns which is right next to the prison where he is being held. Rice and Dunnigan investigate the building and find that there is a tunnel system dug under the prison to each of the solitary confinement cells, including the one Clyde is in, revealing that the murder of his cell mate was not random at all and that Clyde wanted to be in solitary. Rice discovers that Clyde didn’t have an accomplice at all, but that he could leave the prison anytime he wanted to. Rice and Dunnigan discover that Clyde, dressed as a janitor, has placed a bomb under city hall and plans on blowing up the mayor and senior officers of the police force.

After planting the bomb, Clyde returns to his cell fining Rice waiting for him. Clyde offers Rice one final deal, which he refuses. Clyde congratulates him telling him that was one of the main points of his actions. Rice calmly tells Shelton that if he detonates the bomb that he will have to live with the consequences. After considering it for a while, Clyde decides to detonate the bomb at which point Rice runs out and locks Clyde’s cell door while Dunnigan blocks his escape route. Shelton then realizes that the bomb is under his bed and he is engulfed in flames as he looks at a bracelet his daughter made for him the night she was killed.

Psychological thrillers can be hard to do, especially if the bad guy and his ways are not creative or unique. To make a truly good psychological thriller, you have to keep the audience guessing the entire move and that is exactly what Law Abiding Citizen did. How do you catch a murderer when he is already in jail?

Gerard Butler brings out one of his best performances since 300 playing the distraught father and husband who has been cheated by the system of justice. Butler does what any father would do if his family was destroyed and the man who did it went free, he seeks revenge. The best part about this movie was the fact that Butler was killing the people essentially responsible for letting the man who killed his daughter go free from inside his prison cell. And the way he killed them was also very entertaining. Everything from changing the chemicals in a lethal injection machine to bullets in cell phones is what truly made this psychological thriller stand out from the rest.

Butler gave a very powerful performance and I really loved how he transitioned from loving father and husband to intense and psycho-killer. I also liked the way he played his role. He was so much smarter than everybody and it seemed like he didn’t care about what he was doing. The scene where he captures and tortures Darby was truly intense and chilling. I also liked how the film pointed out some monumental flaws in how our justice system works and how easy it is for some people to get away with some of the things they do. Jamie Foxx gave a pretty good performance as the power hungry attorney that let the murderer nearly go free. Foxx, who has been won many many awards and been nominated for countless more almost always steps up and gives a strong performance. There was also a nice supporting cast in this film including Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney and Bruce McGill, all of which gave good performances.

This movie truly did make you think the entire time. That is one thing I enjoy about movies, if they make you think. If you can watch a movie and figure out the end 10 minuets into it then you’ve wasted your time and money. This film never gave you enough to put the pieces together until the very end. It blended suspense, action, creativity and drama all together in a film that is very good. Another great thing about this movie was the direction in which it was made. A lot of films these days try too hard to tailor make themselves perfect for the crowd. This film did what it did according to how it wanted to do it. It seemed like it was made they way the director wanted to make it and if audiences like it then they like it but it wasn’t going to water down any part of the film to be like the critics and other people wanted it to be. I like that aspect in films, making them how they want to be made and not how everybody else wants them to be.

This movie is going to fly under the radar for some of you people out there and you may not pick this film up until it comes out on DVD, but I suggest that you go see it now because it is definitely a different film and one that will surely please that inner psycho in us all. If you like movies that are creative, slightly gruesome and ones that make you think and keep you guessing then you should definitely give Law Abiding Citizen a shot.

I give Law Abiding Citizen 9 deadly steak bones out of 10.


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