For those who often wonder what a battle of wits between Ray Charles and King Leonidas might be like, Law Abiding Citizen is as close as you’re going to get. Actually, that premise might have been a better idea for a film than the bloody revenge thriller we get served up here. This violent psychological thriller, that has a bone to pick with the justice system, never really finds it way. It’s just a jumbled story pushed and pulled along by the guys who fared much better as a Spartan warrior and a musical genius.

Check out the review…

The Players:

The Plot:

After watching his family murdered, Clyde Shelton (Butler) decides to take justice into his own hands. His journey to exact bloody revenge begins after prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx) offers one of the caught suspects a lighter sentence for testifying against his partner, much to dismay of Shelton. Cut to 10 years later. Shelton is now ready to make all those involved with the court case pay dearly for what happened to his wife and daughter – orchestrating his elaborate game of revenge from inside a prison cell.

The Good:

  • Gerard Butler: He’s pretty good in a movie that really isn’t. When he gets to unleash some of his character’s maniacal charm, it gives the movie some much-needed juice. Whatever accent he’s meant to have doesn’t cause too much discomfort, but Butler can only do so much of his wily vigilante-with-a-message dance in a movie before the cracks in the movie show through.
  • Viola Davis: As the tough-talking mayor she’s only in a few scenes, but she carried her part in the movie rather well.
  • Leslie Bibb: She’s not bad at all in a supporting role. She’s made her way into a few big budgets films as of late including last year’s Iron Man, and she’s proving that she has some decent acting chops. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s not bad to look at.
  • The Who: There’s a scene in the film that features The Who‘s awesome song “Eminence Front.” It worked so well in the movie.
  • Philadelphia: Kudos to Director of Photography Jonathan Sela for capturing some lovely exterior shots of the city. It was almost like secondary character within the story.

The Bad:

  • Jamie Foxx: He might one day get back to the heights of his profession as he did with his wonderful performance in Ray, but Law Abiding Citizen will not be the film that gets him on his way. Foxx looks uncomfortable in the role, almost bored with having to inhabit such a one-dimensional character. You don’t believe him in the part at all.
  • The Story: The third act is where the wheels really fall off. The resulting action is plausible from the get-go, but then things get loopy. Forget the lack of any character development, there are some plot points and details that are either never explained, or just thrown in along the way.
  • Foxx vs. Butler: The Silence of the Lamb-ish scenes between Foxx and Butler are stiff as a board. The chemistry just isn’t there. The dialogue they have to volley back and forth isn’t the best, and their scenes come off feeling clunky and unnatural.


I’m going to tip my hat to F. Gary Gray for not letting this film completely spin out of control, but the plot is treated like an afterthought at times and the acting is mediocre at best. The movie loses whatever grip it starts out with far too quickly, and the vigilante story is left to run its ho-hum course. It’s a film happy to spill the blood and get preachy, but there’s not much in the way of making us care about any of it. If you like movies with excessive violence, bad language and a questionable narrative then maybe Law Abiding Citizen is worth a try.

Rating: 3/10

Law Abiding Citizen opens nationwide on October 16th

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