‘Law Abiding Citizen’ action thriller brings murder, mystery and manipulation to the big screen

November 5, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

Are you a law-abiding citizen? Clyde Shelton, played by actor Gerard Butler, believes that he is in the new thought-provoking thriller, “Law Abiding Citizen.”

While many people were thrilled for the release of “Where the Wild Things Are,” I, for one, was more excited for the release of this film. The previews of Butler taking on Jamie Foxx were getting more and more appealing. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

The film’s action starts off in Shelton’s home, where he is knocked unconscious by two men after he answers the door. Before blacking out, Shelton watches as one of the two men proceeds to rape and kill his wife and then kill her child.

The movie follows as one of Shelton’s attackers serves as a witness against the other in a deal to offset his own charges. Shelton becomes furious that District Attorney Nick Rice, played by Foxx, doesn’t charge both the men with voluntary murder in the highest degree. He believes that both of the men should be put to death, but Rice tells him that there is a chance they would have lost in court.

The movie flashes ten years into the future and the action picks up all over again. There is trickery, deception, lies and manipulation. There are explosions, cell fights and even a disturbing execution, and we can’t forget about the blood.

The storyline does a good job of raising the question of whether or not our legal system really works. It also brings the audience to question what they would do in Shelton’s position. Viewers are left wondering how far they would take avenging their family’s murder.

Butler’s character provides some comic relief, as he is willing to give up information about killings that he has committed for what seem like ridiculous things. These things include a nice comfortable bed, a gourmet steak, and his iPod-nothing like the comfort of your own home in a jail cell.

Foxx’s character adds a heightened emotional appeal to the film as he is fighting to balance work with his family. He keeps pushing away the fact he is over working himself to keep his family safe. Ultimately, we see no danger for his family until the second half of the film, when it appears everyone who is close to or works around Rice is attacked.

It gets so intense for Rice that eventually he attempts to step down from his job, only to be promoted.

Foxx and Butler work well together on screen to produce scenes full of tension and fear. Through the entire film, Shelton remains reserved and tidy while Rice appears to get angrier with each comment and remark that Shelton makes.

Overall, the appeal of “Law Abiding Citizen” comes from its action-packed sequences and its well thought-out plot. The audience doesn’t have to subscribe to flashbacks of Shelton’s life with his family because it is easily understood from the first scene, that his family means a lot to him. His pain from the actions of these men and the legal system that isn’t giving him justice is clearly perceived. With all the manipulation and trickery the movie becomes difficult to figure out, but don’t let it all fool you. Look deeper than the surface and you may just unravel it all.

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