Director F. Gary Guy
Stars Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler
Things You Might Like
- Creative deaths
- Butler pulling off a good crazy dude
Things You Might Not Like
- Convoluted revenge scheme
- Atrocious dialogue
- Pretty dumb message
- Everything about “I will kill everyone”
Law Abiding Citizen is a movie for people who wonder how The Punisher would do in a slightly less cartoony universe. “Yech,” is the answer.
1 out of 5 Buried Lawyers
My phone rang the other night. It was about three a.m. and the ring jolted through the Vivaldi I had playing over Pandora. I rolled over and somehow managed to slide the correct way on my touchscreen to answer it. “Whuya?” I asked.
“Aaron. ‘S Jon,” said the voice, a deep, vicious Canadian accent.
“Jon? Wh—it’s three in the morning, man.”
A hideous, walrus-like scream filled the phone and I came close to throwing it across the room. “Do I sound like I give a shit?” asked Jon after he finished screaming.
“If I had to guess, I’d say no.”
“Exactly. Your reviews. They’re too positive. Fuck that shit.”
“…Are you drunk? It’s only nine in the morning there.”
“What if I am, pen monkey? I’m the editor, I have rights! Write something that’ll get people’s attention. Something snarky.”
“But I am getting people’s attention, Jon. My last review had someone say ‘it hit me in the face with a liberal bias’ and ‘writing like this drives people to FOX News.’”
There was a pause. “Seriously? It was a review.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Wow, man. Okay. Just, you know, find something you don’t like.”
The line went dead and Vivaldi came screeching back on.
So, folks, I’d like to talk to you today about Law Abiding Citizen.
The 2009, F. Gary Guy-directed Jamie Foxx/Gerard Butler vehicle’s logline could be: What if the system were so corrupt that the only way to change it was to destroy it? Answer: With explosions. Lots of explosions.
The film opens with the Shelton family at home being apple-pie American and lovely. Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is tinkering with stuff in his workshop/home office, his daughter is being adorable, and his wife is being adoring.
Then—BAM!—home invasion! Wife raped and murdered! Daughter murdered! Shelton beaten!
CUT TO: The Scene Before The Trial.
Shelton’s lawyer, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), tells Shelton that the case against the accused is weak due to questionable forensic evidence, but there’s good news: One of the accused will be executed, while the other will be sentenced to three years in jail on a plea agreement.
Shelton, not happy with this, expresses that he is not happy with this, and Rice says, “Dude, it’s better than nothing.”
CUT TO: The Trial
It goes exactly as Rice said, and one of the accused is led off to jail, and the other is led off to jail—but this time, to die.
CUT TO: Ten Years Later
As the dude who’s going to die is set to receive a lethal injection, something goes horribly wrong and he WRITHES IN UNIMAGINABLE PAIN on the injection table as Rice, the judge, and the other witnesses look on in horror.
CUT TO: A Warehouse After Shelton Has Captured The Other Guy
How’d he capture him? Doesn’t matter. Check this out: Dude’s trapped to a table, right? And Shelton’s got him all wired up to shit like you saw in Saw, right? Cause you’re a moviegoer and wanna see gore. My friend, you’re about to see gore.
From there, the film delves into a huge, city-wide revenge plot by Butler’s Shelton, a man with a past spent making instruments of death. His goal? Well, let’s hear it in his words:
That’s right folks. He’s got the perfectly reasonable position of “Release me, or I kill everyone.”
Now, let’s think about it. At this point in the film, Shelton has already killed a very important civic figure, several lawyers, convicts, ex-convicts, and has severely damaged a child’s psyche. Clearly, when he says “everyone,” he means no one will be spared.
So, moving down the ladder from civic figures to lawyers, he’s got several options of how he can go about killing everyone: Clearly, the clerks who served orders in court are in danger, because without them, then the plea bargain would never have reached the judge.
Then we’ve got every bailiff who was just doing his job and protecting a convicted man to jail. Without them around, then Darby would have been fair game to be murdered.
Then, obviously, all cops involved in arresting the people. Then everyone in the law firms for being a part of their organization, then the Bar Association for allowing the law firm to practice, etc etc etc.
So, as we can see, the body count has so much potential to just skyrocket in this movie. And it’s clear that Shelton can do it. He rigged a cell phone to act as a mini-bomb—from jail, for God’s sake! This is a man who knows no boundaries when it comes to things that go boom.
So, will he succeed in killing everyone, or will the bad guys (read: people playing by the law) triumph?
So there’s the movie, and, hoo boy, how insane it is. It plays out like the mad, explosion-filled fantasies of a thirteen year-old who sees himself wronged by curfews. And, on top of that, it’s got the same amount of emotional and intellectual gravitas.
“But Aaron,” you may be saying, “it was a popcorn thriller! And didn’t I hear you saying that you liked Cowboys & Aliens?”
I’ll address your second point first: C&A was a movie featuring Grumpy Harrison Ford, American Daniel Craig, and aliens. Everything but Ford in that sentence is intrinsically unbelievable. Thus, a movie running on the idea that hostile aliens are on Earth is totally cool. It plays on different rules.
And while this was definitely a popcorn thriller, that doesn’t excuse it from being dumb as hell. What kind of deranged madman looks at a guy who wants to “kill everyone” and says, “Man, this would be a great protagonist.”
(I swear to God, if one of you wiseacres says “Clearly, he’s an anti-hero,” I’ll take my belt out.)
See, Shelton’s mentality in this movie is pretty damn similar to The Punisher.
Now, for those of you who aren’t versed in your Marvel, The Punisher is a guy who saw his family murdered and decided that he’d fight crime by killing everyone he doesn’t like, even when—on a few occasions—that extends to someone like Spider-Man.
To people like me, people who like The Punisher are on par with dudes who wear Ed Hardy gear and take UFC way too seriously—if you get my drift.
When I saw this movie the first time, I was very worried. See, I started thinking, “My God, what if people view this guy as right about The System and how The System needs to be ended or changed by any means necessary? Would they view this sort of self-destructive philosophy as valid, and be propelled to advocate it?
“Isn’t that how the French Revolution was started? And hell, think about what came out of that. The Reign of Terror. Doesn’t get much worse than terror—not to mention when terror has a whole friggen reign. What if our leaders start getting killed? Where are we then? Screw you, Gerard Butler, for portraying such a conniving sociopath who is somehow omniscient.”
(I should take this time to mention that Butler and Foxx do play their roles quite well. Butler pulls off crazy like no one else, and Foxx—while it’s a shame seeing him do stuff like this after Ray—pulls off a decent lawyer. It’s not their fault that the movie was awful. That blame goes to the director and screenwriter.)
But then I remembered that I had nothing to worry about. This sort of cultural dross is popular for a bit then is flushed down the memory hole, only to be resuscitated by bored intellectuals with talk of “You remember that Law Abiding Citizen movie? What the hell was that about?”
So, if you haven’t seen this, don’t bother getting it in any way shape or form.
See ya later, true believers!
Rent, Buy, or Pirate? AVOID. But, if you’re feeling masochistic, buy this film from Amazon. (NOTE: Bullet Reviews does not condone piracy and, generally speaking, thinks those who do should be blown up by their own cell phones.)
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