Friday, 22 April 2011

Film Review: LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009)

LawAbidingCitizen_poster Director: F. Gary Gray
Running time: 104 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Thriller/Action/Drama
UK Release date: 27th November 2009

Watched on DVD Friday 22nd April 2011.


The ending of this was slightly spoiled by overhearing the closing moments during one of many conversations about films in my local pub. Fortunately, the discussion didn’t involve exactly how this conclusion was reached and so the film wasn’t a total loss. An interesting film which raises several questions about justice, but one that also has its flaws. I’ll give you my thoughts after this brief summary (summary haters, and those that don’t wish to know about the plot, please prosecute that murderer, and do it right this time, while I write the next paragraph).

Law Abiding Citizen After seeing his wife and daughter murdered in front of him, Clyde Shelton is justifiably aggrieved at the justice system. One of the assailants, Clarence Darby, agrees to give evidence against his accomplice for a reduced sentence. Darby is the one responsible for the murders and Shelton believes he’s the one that should pay the heaviest price. When, subsequently, Darby is found brutally murdered, Shelton is arrested. The prosecutor, Nick Rice, stands by the original action against Darby, believing it was the only way he could have obtained a conviction. Shelton sees it differently and has his own brand of justice in mind, not just against the perpetrators of the crime against his family, but against the whole justice system. I’ll leave my summary here so as not to vex Shelton… or indeed the Spoiler Police.

law-abiding-citizen-gerard-butler-jamie-foxx Decent performances all round, although I feel nobody was really stretched. Gerard Butler was brooding as Clyde Shelton; Jamie Foxx was stylish and sometimes angry as Nick Rice. Nice to see Colm Meaney as Detective Dunnigan and Bruce McGill as the DA, Jonas Cantrell. An honourable mention also goes to Leslie Bibb as Sarah Lowell.

law-abiding-citizen-insert-caption-400x266 This film gave me a bit of a dilemma; I couldn’t decide quite who the good guy was. On one hand there’s Shelton whose life has been turned upside down and who you can easily sympathise with at the beginning of the film. The trouble is, when his retribution starts to go a little too far, you’re left with Rice to root for. The trouble with Rice is that it was his ambition to get one more easy conviction that caused all of what followed. I’m still on the fence with this one I’m afraid.

law_abiding_citizen19 Technically, the film is well made with some great shots of Philadelphia and some nice action sequences. I liked the sound mix on the DVD, it’s nice when they bother to utilise all of the 5.1 Dolby speakers. Although the film isn’t great, it just has enough to keep the audience occupied (if only trying to figure out who the good guy is). I might watch it again, but it would have to be in a while, when I need reminding that Gerard Butler doesn’t just do really poor comedies… Not really recommended, but if you feel compelled, go for it.

My Score: 5.4/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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