REVIEW: Law Abiding Citizen

By in Culture

LlawAbidingCitizenCASEY BALON
Arts Writer

Clyde Shelton believes that lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten and there’s no doubt that he truly means it.

The freshly released film Law Abiding Citizen may not be the finest motion picture ever made but it doesn’t deserve to be written off either. The film’s surprising success at the box office, grossing over $21 million on the opening weekend, definitely backs this up.

The thriller basis of the film serves as a somewhat stable backdrop for a messy array of sickeningly funny and awkward moments. The mixed dimensions of suspense, justice and humour strewn throughout the film offer a lot for viewers to digest.

While watching a movie expected to be deep and enthralling, one is taken aback by the sick humour the main character freely throws around.       

Right off the bat, the film dives into the brutal murders of Shelton’s wife and daughter, leaving viewers feeling overwhelmed by how quickly the whole scene plays out. Shelton (Gerard Butler) is soon faced with the heart wrenching reality that one of the men who slaughtered his family is not going to be convicted of the murder. Because of insufficient evidence, prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) makes a deal that essentially allows one of the guilty men to get away with a measly slap on the wrist. 

Ten years fly by and it is evident that Shelton has done some serious scheming. He has had plenty of time to devise a way to bring down the entire Philadelphia judicial system. He commences the bloodbath by killing the men responsible for the death of his family. The very unpleasant butchering of one of the men gives viewers an idea of just how pissed off Shelton really is. When he lost the people who were most important to him, he obviously lost everything, including his mind.

The audience is left slightly confused as sporadic moments during the film provide glimpses into what is left of the humanity in Butler’s character. Is he simply an anguished man or has he completely lost his marbles?

Once Shelton is placed in a maximum-security prison, he begins to take even more control of the situation, making the other characters, including prosecutor Nick Rice, mere pawns in his master plan. Shelton has nothing left to lose and is determined to make Nick realize the disease and corruption of the judicial system.

It is apparent to viewers that Shelton is completely consumed in his cause, which loses its justification as he continues to kill dozens of relatively good people while attempting to prove his point. The audience is left slightly confused as sporadic moments during the film provide glimpses into what is left of the humanity in Butler’s character. Is he simply an anguished man or has he completely lost his marbles?

Gerard Butler does a fine job of portraying Clyde in a vindictive manner but the character lacks a certain warmth that could allow viewers to keep cheering for him throughout the latter part of the film. He could take a cue from his co-star Jamie Foxx who demonstrates an ample amount of warmth in Nick. This promotes viewers to develop a respect for Nick that is lost for Clyde.

On the other hand, both actors are alike as they exhibit enough charisma and sarcasm for multiple feature films. In fact, the majority of the acting done throughout the movie is quite impressive. It appears to be the script that has failed the actors, resulting in a few not-so-smooth moments during some of the not-so-realistic scenes. 

So if you are looking for a life changing experience, you’re probably not going to find it in this film. But if you are somehow able to see past the bodies and the smoke and appreciate a man on a mission, then Law Abiding Citizen is the movie for you.