Law Abiding Citizen, Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx

Overture Films

Review in a Hurry: Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler star in a ridiculous vigilante, revenge fantasy flick that gets so tangled in the knotty issue of justice, it ends up strangling itself with absurdity.

The Bigger Picture: Justice! It's a totally tough issue, right? All fraught with moral quandaries about what the State owes its victims, how it should punish its criminals and how it manages an impartial system run by flawed humans. The notion of our corruptible nature, then, leads us right back to the initial problem about criminals and victims! It's like a snake eating itself, all circular and ugly. Hey! Kinda like this movie!

Clyde Shelton (Butler) is an inventor who watches his family get slaughtered in front of him by two men. A slick upstart district attorney—played skillfully by Foxx—cuts a plea deal so that one of the murderers gets a reduced sentence while the other lands on death row. To exact his revenge, Butler wreaks murderous havoc on the men who killed his family, the D.A. and the city of Philadelphia...mostly from inside a jail cell!

In an attempt to halt the carnage, Foxx cuts one deal after another, which is precisely what Butler wants: to expose the corrupt nature of the justice system.

So the main problem with Citizen is that it tries to tackle the thorny issues of justice by pushing each ethical dilemma to an extreme conclusion. For example, the accomplice to the murder of Clyde's kid is put to death by lethal injection—but through some bewildering infiltration of the Pennsylvania penal system Clyde has sabotaged the machine. So instead of painless death, this child murderer is, essentially, tortured in his final moments.

We're meant to feel vindicated that this man is being punished but then—wait! Should he suffer? And should the father of a murdered child be the one to make a killer suffer instead of the State? Does it matter? No, because there is no rational position the movie stakes out, so it all devolves into an orgy of violence, tears and blood.

The only true victims in this movie are those who paid to watch it.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Foxx has a fine comedic sense and is able to tease out some ironic humor from an otherwise depressing affair.


There's so much else to see, too—have a look in our Totally New Releases gallery!

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