Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

Jails not that bad after all, you can still do all of the things you want to do even if that is just getting revenge. Sweet sweet revenge.

Inventive master-mind, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler), wreaks havoc on prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) after one of the men who killed his family goes free. Basically, Shelton is out to screw everybody else who went out and screwed him, and I promise you that this is not a porno.

The whole legal system, regardless of who or where you are, is very flawed. I mean just by taking a look at this flick I have to say I kind of agree a bit with Butler’s character a bit. You got DNA evidence, an eye-witness, and even a confession from the killer themselves and you can’t make that stick? The criminal justice system is one that people have learned to trust less and less as the year’s go by and to be brutally honest, it may start to bring more rebellion to this country in the future. However, this is the only type of smart thoughts that went through this film.

Having the “whole legal system is flawed” aspect would have been a nice template for this film to fall back on but somehow it just starts to get more problematic as it goes on. The film tries to balance out the idea of us not knowing what’s going to happen next, even though we pretty much do and gives us these very gory and bloody death sequences of Butler just ripping a guy into 25 pieces. I did not understand what this film was trying to convey by showing this and I think that it was just director F. Gary Gray‘s way of trying to be hip and cool with the 21st century crowd by giving them some cool scenes that they would see in ‘Saw’. Let’s also not forget to mention that none of them are particularly original or new in any way.

I like the whole idea of this one dude getting even with the people that screwed him over in the first place and for the first 30-40 minutes, this film had me pretty entertained considering that this was practically Butler killing people left-and-right from the comfort of his own cell. Although, this all started to change as I soon realized how totally illogical and unbelievable these killings really are so that I started to have a feeling as to just where this flick was going.

The one thing about this film that really pissed me off is that I feel like the film wanted to have its cake but also eat it too. I already mentioned how the film brings up good points about the flawed legal system we have in today’s world but the film also feels like it needs to exploit it’s violence by having these savage killings. It doesn’t work both ways so by the end of the film, when everything starts to come full-circle after all of the blood-shed has been drawn, the film tries to go back to the points it made before and I just felt it was terribly phony right away. This film tried to cheat me but instead just failed miserably at trying to give me murdering with reason, and that’s the main reason why this flick made me mad.

Probably my favorite part of this whole film was probably the fact that I remembered when it was first getting filmed, that it all took place in Philadelphia and even a jail that is about 1 minute away from me. It was definitely cool to see my state and mainly my mayor in a film that gives it a bad name. However, if anybody who is reading this watches football, I highly doubt that this film is the only thing that gives Philly a bad name.

Jamie Foxx is a guy who is usually always a charmer in everything he does, so when he has to play an asshole lawyer (if that’s not a tautology) he seems very lifeless. The whole performance here that Foxx gives just seems lazy and the same emotion on his face the whole time. It also didn’t help that this flick tried to get us behind his character’s back considering that he made an asshole decision in the first place knowing the consequences going in as well. He definitely had more life in his eyes when he was playing Ray Charles. Getttt itt!??!

Gerard Butler struts his stuff and there’s nothing really with that here, however, his character just seems a bit one-note the whole time. Yeah, he’s mad and angry but does he always have to be? Can’t the guy at least show a little remorse and sadness over the things that have happened to him and the things that he does to others? I guess when you’re speaking of King Leonidas, who the hell cares! The film is also held accountable for the only time I have ever seen a bad performance from Viola Davis who plays the governor. Shame on you F. Gary Gray.

Consensus: Law Abiding Citizen is slightly entertaining in some spots and features a somewhat smart critique on today’s legal system, but it gets more and more implausible, unoriginal, and sillier as the film goes on and all of that critiquing goes away as soon as Butler blows up a 3rd car.



  1. I completely agree with you here. This movie was absolutely terrible and ridiculous. When I originally heard about it, I was excited because I thought it would be a nice vengeance thriller like “Taken”, but boy was I wrong. I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone.

  2. I forget why I even watched this in the first place (I honestly don’t know how I end up watching half these movies I watch since I hate anything too violent), but yeah, I agree with you. This movie was a piece of junk.

    Only one thing I have to disagree on you with. I think when a person’s mind is so consumed with revenge or emotions similar, I don’t think remorse would ever come up. I think that to that person, they’re just laying out karma.

  3. Didn’t think much of this movie but didn’t think it was horrible. Mediocre yes but still quite watchable. Butler needs a new agent ahah, he just doesn’t know how to pick roles.

  4. Musn’t be so hard on a popcorn flick. I kind of enjoyed watching ridiculous escalation happen on screen. Fairly cliche in it’s story and the ending was seen a mile away, but I like Butler as a villain.

      • Oh i agree that the plot is just absolutely bonkers. I don’t know, I just for some reason enjoyed watching Butler escalate shit to the next level. The phone bomb scene was nuts though,

  5. I don’t know. I liked it, I guess for reasons I can’t really explain other than it was twisty-turny even though you knew what would happen. It wasn’t so much the destination, it was the journey. About the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the lawyer got off pretty easy. All of his colleagues are dead (which he doesn’t seem too bothered about), people who really didn’t have much to do with it, yet the lawyer is the one who made the call to save his conviction rate and nothing bad happens to him.

  6. My problem with this film is the wrong guy died at the end. They did too good a job making Butler’s character sympathetic and Foxx’s character too unlikable.

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