At the Movies with Kevin: Law Abiding Citizen

October 28, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

“Law Abiding Citizen” is an entertaining thriller with a brain, which is a special rarity, but without the full capacity of common sense, which is to its detriment. The film will not survive close scrutiny of its logic, but nonetheless provides worthwhile escape from the reality of the serious problems that society is currently suffering through. The atmosphere creates the feeling of plausibility within the plot, which is thoroughly preposterous.

The film begins with a home invasion and the trial of the two murderers. Clyde (Gerard Butler), the father and husband of the victims, wants justice for his loved ones but is turned away by the prosecutor, Nick (Jamie Foxx), who decides to accept a plea deal for one of the defendants in order to ensure the continuation in the rise of his personal conviction rate. Nick is illustrated as a blood-sucking opportunist who sees justice as secondary behind his own selfish ambitions, while Clyde is seen as a man who simply wishes for his family to receive the same respect as the prosecutor’s ego. “Law Abiding Citizen” does a skillful job of balancing the audience’s sympathies between the two characters for a while, aided in no small part to the excellent performances across the board, before becoming the traditional, everlasting struggle of good and evil.

“Law Abiding Citizen” does fail in understanding the intricacies of the American judicial process. The plea deal at the beginning is completely unethical because the lack of agreement from the victim’s families would violate judicial ethics, forcing both Nick and the judge to undergo strict reviews of their occupational character. Clyde exhibits a better understanding of this process by targeting the judge because she is not obligated to agreeing to a plea deal between the prosecution and the defense, and would certainly not do so without the consent of the victim’s family. The tyranny of evil must be condemned by those with the power to fight, which includes separating the lawful from the corrupt citizens in order to continue the moral values within our existent society.

“Law Abiding Citizen” believes that the justice system is too compromising, providing fairness for the criminals, instead of justice for the victims. Unfortunately, many of the observations the film makes accurate examinations of a flawed, imperfect system that emphasizes innocence until proven guilt. That said, this is the only way to aid in ensuring the true culpability of those who are convicted of their crimes. Then again, Clyde is not as upset about the system as he is about the cowards that fail to fight for righteousness in favor of their own self-interest.

The film surprised me with its ending but not in a good way. The conclusion had a less emotional and intellectual impact than I might have imagined and would have made a stronger statement about the justice system and the addictive nature of hate if it had ended differently.

There are logical inconsistencies within the film, and yet it somehow continues its level of intellectual stimulation until the end. Although it is thought provoking at times, “Law Abiding Citizen” lacks both the subtlety and emotional capacity to become a memorable experience. It is a pulse-pounding diversion throughout, and it succeeds admirably at its intended level.

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