Justice is served?

October 22, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx investigate the age-old question of what constitutes justice.

Law Abiding Citizen shows how you just “can’t fight fate” in this cinematic spectacle criticizing the issues of a seriously flawed United States justice system.

Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx are pitted against each other in this action-packed thriller that promises to instill the audience with fear, excitement, and a slight skepticism towards the current conditions of the legal system.

Hollywood golden boy Jamie Foxx is cast against type. In Law Abiding Citizen, Foxx is a little too serious when portraying Philadelphia prosecutor Nick Rice. It is through Foxx’s character that the audience is exposed to the exploration of corruption in the U.S. judicial system. Butler, on the other hand, leaves the world of The Ugly Truth and steps into the shoes of clever, inventor, planner, and sociopathic protagonist, Clyde Shelton.

Writer, Kurt Wimmer (Ultraviolet, Equilibrium) presents the duality between the common man and the governmental system that he must abide by, but in the case of Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) he must lose everything to discover that the “perfect” system that we as a society so adamantly try to protect, is in fact flawed from the inside out.

Once Shelton’s family becomes a target for burglary, murder, and attempted rape, his world is turned up side down when prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) fails to grant Shelton the justice he deserves. Instead, Rice who is too self-absorbed in his 96% conviction rate and his eagerness to rise in the ranks, does whatever it takes to make sure he is a success—including bargaining with a criminal to get results.

Angered by this act of betrayal, Shelton disappears and returns 10 years later after educating himself about the law and devising a fool-proof vengeance plan aimed to get back at everyone involving his family’s case.

Shelton deliberately plays on the justice system like a girl playing hard to get. By landing himself in a prison cell after murdering the man responsible for the death of his family, Shelton attempts to bargain with Rice for an honest confession by listing ridiculous demands and conditions.
But when the prosecutor fails to abide by the rules Shelton presents to Rice by the slightest detail, mayhem ensues and someone must suffer the consequences.

Cinematographer, Jonathan Sela (Grimm Love, Max Payne, The Omen), gives the audience a slap in the face when Shelton’s suburban home is intruded during the opening scene. Shelton takes a quick stab in the stomach and falls to the ground as he watches his wife get stabbed by the same knife used on him. The scene is then interrupted as a small child walks in on the attempted rape of her mother.

The tables are then turned as we take a peek into the personal life of prosecutor Nick Rice and his family.

As the curtain rises to show Rice’s daughter seated, cello in hand, at her school recital, we are taken to a gruesome scene as the curtains part to reveal Rice himself seated behind the glass partition of a show that he likes to call “justice,” the execution of a convicted murderer.

Although the film has a somewhat predictable plot, it is easily overlooked due to the jaw-dropping action scenes, clever dialogue and very fluid cinematography.

By the film’s, end most are left satisfied knowing that justice was served. Everyone received what was due to them and there were no loose ends. This film dramatically fuses entertainment and intellect, leaving the audience scratching their heads wondering, if our justice system is just as flawed as the one posed in Law Abiding Citizen.

Publication: Loyola Phoenix
Author: Desiree Mitchell

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