Law Abiding Citizen
It’s a shame when a film with good actors is very bad. But it’s a real shame when the movie is excellent until the very last five minutes, where it presents you with one of the most hackneyed endings of the decade. ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is one such movie. A taut, well acted and engaging [...]
It’s a shame when a film with good actors is very bad. But it’s a real shame when the movie is excellent until the very last five minutes, where it presents you with one of the most hackneyed endings of the decade. ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is one such movie. A taut, well acted and engaging thriller all the way through until it collapses majorly in its final moments.
Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is your average family man. But one day gangsters invade his house and kill his wife and daughter while he watches. As the criminals are arrested, we meet district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) who strikes a deal with one of the killers and sets him free in return of information about their boss. Clyde pleads for justice but is denied it. Thus, he makes plan for a brilliantly orchestrated revenge. He targets not only the killers, but the district attorney and all the people involved in making the decision and does all of this while remaining in his jail cell. As the city is dumbfounded and shaken, Nick is the only one who can do something to stop it.
The basic plot itself is very similar to ‘Death Sentence’ and a number of other revenge thrillers of the past. Where ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ sets itself apart is with its unique execution where there is no good guy or bad guy. In context, both Nick and Clyde have reasons to do what they are doing. The film does a great job of keeping the audience off balance and making them wonder who to side in this situation (right until the mentioned ending).
The film is very engaging and tense throughout. Unlike other revenge thrillers where things elevate slowly, here Clyde just has the whole city jolted and in his hands throughout while no one has a clue of how he is being able to orchestrate all his moves. And that adds a layer of mystery to the film which would have otherwise been routine. As the film moves along, a lot of clever devices are used for murder and end up shocking the audience out of their seats. The sense of fear is present throughout as we are as dumbfounded as Nick when it comes to figuring out the mystery.
Gerard Butler provides a standout performance in the film which is his best since ‘300’. His unique charisma leads to some great interplay between him and Jamie Foxx who is one-not but adequate in his role. And the fact that Butler is so likeable makes us root for him even though some of his decisions are questionable to say the least. The performance is so strong that I would be surprised if he doesn’t play villains in the future.
And that’s where the praise ends. As the last ten minutes of the film begin to unfold, a sudden change in quality is observed: lame and preposterous explanations are given to some of the questions raised, people end up in places much faster than in reality. But all that is nothing compared to the very final scenes of the film that do complete injustice to the film. I am not going to spoil it, but I would suggest the audiences to stop watching it right before the ending and go make up their own and it will definitely be better than the one portrayed here. While the rest of the film had the guts to be edgy, the final scenes are so mainstream Hollywood and so rushed that they certainly take away quite a bit from what could have been one of the best movies of the year. If only the writer hadn’t been lazy and been faithful to the brilliant characters he had crafted thus far.
Still, ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is a familiar concept delivered in a nail-bitingly tense manner .It’s a film that dares to challenge your morals at times and the performances elevate it to a thriller that is recommended to be seen on the big screen. If only the ending was nearly as powerful.