Butler seeks justice in ‘Law Abiding Citizen’

November 13, 2009 | Law Abiding Citizen Reviews

People die, cars blow up, buildings fall and fires blaze. Each death, accident and explosion is different. “Law Abiding Citizen” is what every modern day action film should be.

One night, two home invaders break into the home of Clyde Shelton, played by Gerard Butler. The invaders brutally kill both his wife and young daughter while he watches helplessly.

The Assistant District Attorney, Nick Rice, played by Jamie Foxx, is assigned the case. He is worried about his conviction rate being high, so he doesn’t want to risk going to trial. Rice is offered a deal when one of the killers wants to testify against the other. Shelton begs Rice not to take the deal because he wants justice for his wife and daughter. The deal would mean one of the killers gets a death sentence, while the other only gets 10 years. But, Rice is ordered by the DA to take the deal. Shelton thinks that Rice just made a deal with a murderer, and he wants justice.

Shelton lays low for the next 10 years, but is still bitter about the way the system works. When one killer is released from prison, Shelton kidnaps and executes him in mad-scientist fashion. He kills the murderer on death row in very unique fashion, as well.

Soon after the murders, Shelton is arrested at his home, but, before the police arrive, he strips naked to greet them, as if he were Leonidas facing the Persians at Thermopylae.
Shelton warns Rice. He says the justice system needs to be fixed. It failed him and his family.

Everyone connected with the case will soon be in harm’s way. Even from jail, Shelton’s threats become reality, and Rice must stop him before it’s too late.

Director F. Gary Gray, who also directed the 2003 film “The Italian Job,” keeps the flow of the film consistent. It keeps the entertainment aspect high and boredom low. Overall the acting is phenomenal.

Originally Butler was to play Rice and Foxx was to play Shelton, but it was a great decision to switch roles. It was nice to see Butler in a dark and disturbing role.

“Law Abiding Citizen” has suspense that keeps the audience on the edge of its seats. Each scene brings a new event dealing with Shelton’s plans for the judicial system and everyone involved in his case.

The film keeps the audience wondering what will happen next, but everything is unpredictable. Shelton gives hints during the film, but it’s hard to tell what will actually happen. Every move that he makes is one step ahead of Rice. He knows what he wants to accomplish. Every detail is planned out. Only he knows what will happen next. The guessing game keeps the audience interested and wanting more.

As Shelton says, “I’m just getting warmed up. This is like total war. I’m going to bring the whole f***ing diseased temple down on your head. It’s going to be biblical.”
The film received negative reviews and was unfavorable, but, despite negative criticism, the film, in its opening weekend, brought in $21.3 million. Only “Where the Wild Things Are” was a bigger box-office success.

The action in the film is chaotic. There is not a dull scene. Rice wants to figure out how Shelton continues to commit crimes while in prison. Shelton just wants to teach a lesson to Rice, and express the pain of a man who lost everything and is capable of anything.

This is definitely a film worth spending $9 to see. It is in theaters now.

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