Review: Law Abiding Citizen Disappoints just a bit

I went into the theater expecting some senseless action flick just to kill some time but I was surprised by the way the movie picked up pace from the opening scene itself. Law Abiding Citizen is a thoughtful thriller to some extent and for most parts it does not disappoint.

Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) got screwed really bad, his wife and daughter gets brutally murdered in the beginning and the killers just gets away with pretty much no trial and just a conviction. This film made me question what is right and what is wrong and the boundaries and what justice really is cause there really isn’t a definite form of justice, Clyde Shelton doesn’t seem to be fighting for his family but for himself as well although you can’t help but root for the guy. Nick (Jamie Foxx) thinks he is on the right side of the law by cutting deals with the accused for getting a high conviction rate and thats his job and that is all he cares about.

The story fast forwards to 10 yrs later with Nick still the same guy who has no time even for this family. And then the pace quickens with Clyde Shelton getting some payback and trying to take down the system with some sort of revenge (similar to Taken). Clyde is then assumed to be the suspect and is sent to prison, mind you he was taken nude from his house which goes to imply that he had taken nothing with him other than a bracelet made by his daughter.

Now, things begin to get complicated as they have no evidence against him and Clyde starts to cut deal with Nick for a confession and series of possible murders which could be stopped if they struck a deal with him. Things go from bad to worst as Clyde takes down every person who was in some way or the other related to the reducing the sentence of the killers of his wife and daughter.

The disappointment of this film is that just about every character in this film is just not likable except for Gerard Butler who is just brilliant and it seems like he is the only one with some brains. The first half of the movie was focused on how to some extent corrupt or non-justifiable the justice system was. For some reason, that idea got lost with everyone trying to find out how Clyde was master minding all the murders while he was locked away in solitary cell.

Jamie Foxx gives his worst performance and that is where the problem in the movie lies. On one hand, Butler is just bringing in all the chaos by thoughtful planning and by sudden murders that makes Jamie Foxx look like some stupid guy trying to believe that he is the Hero, when clearly he is not. The movie goes at a steady pace and momentum picks up in the second half until the last scene where everything just goes down to nothing. You try to make a choice based on what each person has gone through but after Clyde starts murdering innocent people, you begin to think if you want to cheer for him anymore. Jamie Foxx’s character is soo bad that you cannot take his side at all and that is where this movie fails. It does not justify Clyde’s action after a certain point and the lack of common sense that prevails around the police and Nick was laughable. Viola Davis in a short cameo was brilliant as usual.

In short, the movie had the potential to be the ‘Taken‘ of this year but somehow even though there were less misses, they were really big and a different ending itself could have changed the overall impression of the film. The movie was entertaining for most parts with some cool scenes but just rushes to a bad ending with the usual Good always wins against evil. The question being who was the good and who was the bad?

[rating:7/10]

Founder/Creator of Talking Films. Created Talking films back in 2009 and has been an ardent cinema lover for the past decade.

  • http://Website(optional) Ronnie Rams

    The movie had a bad bad ending. First off they made Jamie Fox look like the hero, the one that lets murders free and proves the justice system does not work!

    Gerard made the most sense in the film and something a lot of us would have done ourselves. Take everyone in the system down to its knees.

    Another bad idea in the movie was making Jamie grow a brain out of nowhere to someone that had a master plan. Gerard’s character was one that you would think worked for the CIA in a think tank to solve problems. How in the world does Jamie’s character get smarter then that? Really bad bad ending.

  • Prem

    I agree with you Ronnie, If Gerard Butler had brought down the city hall, that would have been a blow for the justice department and everyone would have loved the movie. It was stupid to make Jamie Foxx look the smart one in the end.

    I guess it was a question of how the law side always wins in the end which was lame…..

  • http://fixingmovies.blogspot.com Mal

    Watched it myself and was curious about alternate endings, so I wrote my own. It’s kinda obvious that Gerard Butler should have at least escaped, or gotten some kind of revenge from the grave. You can read it here.

    http://fixinggoodmovies.blogspot.com/2010/01/law-abiding-citizen-2009.html

  • http://Website(optional) Nico

    Just watched this movie and the ending fuckd me up, I was ready to tell people to watch this movie, but that ending just ruined it, its not like I dont see that Clyde Shelton did win, but atlest he could have made a video where he rubbed it in face that he made him the layer he should have been, taking down the killer instead of making deals with them. As I see it Clyde became a killer so bad, that the law just couldnt make deal and lock him up, now they had to stop him, and Nick did what he should have done from the start, stop the murderer at any cost!

  • Jack

    Exactly,

    Bad ending. Should’ve said that when he dies, everyone in the city will die, or jamie’s wife + daughter. He is someone who keeps up with the technology, and that would be possible! When his heart stops beating, the whole city should’ve blown apart.

    However, good intro and nice flow throughout the movie.