“LAW ABIDING CITIZEN” (Gerard Butler & Jamie Foxx)
I actually have a soft spot for vigilante movies – revenge is sweet when you know for a fact that the guilty parties deserve what is done to them in the name of vengeance. Movies provide that proof by showing you what horrendous crime the perpetrators committed. Denzel Washington’s “Man On Fire” is probably my favorite. “Law Abiding Citizen”, on the other hand, is probably the worst. It’s not just that Gerard Butler is no Denzel, but this entire film goes awry. It wants to be the ‘bad ass’ of vigilante films & only succeeds in turning the victim into as much of a deplorable human being as the sick criminals that raped his wife & then murdered her & his daughter.
Yes, it’s enough to drive a sane man nuts, especially when the actual murderer turns against his partner in crime & fingers him as the ‘killer’... By the way, wouldn’t forensic evidence prove which one of them pulled the trigger or used the knife?
So the accomplice gets the death penalty while the murderer does time but eventually gets released.
Butler plays ‘Clyde’, the father & husband who is incapacitated by two thieves that break into his home & apparently decide on a whim to leave him alive after forcing him to witness the brutal murders of his wife & child.
Apparently, in Philadelphia courts, an eyewitness account doesn’t hold much water; As D.A. Nick (Jamie Foxx) tells Clyde, “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.”
Thanks to an untapped source of wealth, Clyde takes 10 years to extract his revenge – why he bothers to ‘assist’ the State of Pennsylvania as it carries out the death sentence on the guy that didn’t kill anyone is more than a little unreasonable & the way he ‘disposes’ of the actual killer is quite off-putting, but you understand the depth of his anger – If that’s how he needed to make closure, okay, get it off your chest & then go back to being that ‘law abiding citizen’ you were before your life was devastated by these scumbags.
But no, just making sure the killer’s lives came to a torturous ending isn’t good enough for Clyde, he has to brutally murder EVERYONE involved with the case. He starts with the murderers’ lawyer, & it’s an acceptable killing because Clyde sets it up so that the lawyer ‘could’ be saved if D.A. Nick & the police agree to his demands within the time limits he sets. One clever line is spoken when Clyde tells Nick, “After all, you’re the one that cuts deals with murderers, right?”
But lame lines like ‘Cut me a deal or everyone dies.’ & ‘I’m NOT having this conversation!’ help to send this vigilante revenge flick into the depths of stupidity.
There’s one continuity flaw that sticks out so badly it makes you wonder if they even cared about continuity, realizing their audience just wanted to see Clyde kill as many innocent people as possible & in the most blood splattering of ways. The scene in question is when Nick beats Clyde & the victim-turned-serial killer spits out a mouthful of blood – Three seconds later, Clyde’s mouth is fine & doesn’t even have a trace of blood.
The film also goes overboard in trying to NOT be racist – Every black actor is a good guy, fighting to uphold the law - & the murderers, rapists & serial killers are all white actors (Including the poor hayseed whose throat Clyde rips open just to get put in solitary confinement)
A newsman announces “The city of Philadelphia has been brought to its knees by a man who sits in prison.” It was hard not to laugh at that one despite the fact that the movie had deteriorated into total crap by that time.
The only fun I had was every time Bruce McGill appeared onscreen & my brain shouted ‘D-Day!’
I could reveal the equally dumb ending but I’ll just tell those of you who still want to watch this blood-fest that you won’t be disappointed because the senseless brutal killings virtually drive this film from start to finish...