Droid has a good time with the “Law Abiding Citizen”

Decent thrillers are hard to come by these days, so when one comes along that’s fun and involving, we should embrace it.  ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is just that.  It’s preposterous, but it knows it.  The plot probably won’t hold up under cross examination, but you don’t care while you’re watching it.  This flick wants nothing more than to entertain, and it succeeds.

Gadget engineer Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) survives a home invasion where he witnesses his wife and daughter brutally murdered.  Nick Rice (Jaime Foxx) is the hotshot prosecutor with the 96% conviction rate maintained by plea-bargaining cases that aren’t an automatic ‘slam dunk’.  When a crucial piece of evidence is deemed inadmissible, Rice makes a deal with one of the murderers to testify against the other in return for a reduced sentence.  Despite Shelton’s objections, only one is sentenced to death.

"What's that, Jaime? You chose the wrong role? Eat shit, mate!"

10 years later, the lethal injection execution of the murderer goes horribly wrong, with someone having replaced the usual pain free drugs with ones that are substantially more painful.  Why would someone go to all the trouble to kill a man during his execution?  The first suspect is Clarence Darby, the partner, but when he’s found chopped to pieces on a property owned by Shelton, it’s he who becomes the prime suspect.

That’s the set up, and from there it rattles along at a brisk pace with Shelton systematically knocking off all the people involved in the injustice 10 years prior.  The mystery is how he’s able to keep murdering people from his jail cell.  There’s the usual bunk about his mysterious past, and at one stage he’s basically described as the smartest man on the planet, a mantle he must’ve inherited from Jason Isaacs.

"You mean we can't reshoot the past 11 weeks so I can play Shelton?"

Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator), and written by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium) the movie is skilfully made and never ceases to entertain.  But I call for an amnesty on establishing shots taken by a helicopter that circles a building or monument.  It’s getting annoying.  It was also amusing to note the efforts made to differentiate between the two time periods.  Apart from a dated mobile phone and little beard worn by Foxx, you really can’t tell the two time periods apart.  None of the characters look one day older.  Whatever these characters secret is, if they can bottle it, there’s money to be made.

Foxx's agent learns the hard way for recommending he play the lawyer.

The performances are good across the board, but it’s Butler who shines and who is clearly having a great time in the starring role.  The audience sympathises with Shelton, and Butler plays up the anti-hero aspects of the character.  He gets all the best lines and plays those moments well.  Foxx does what needs to be done with a fairly bland character.  He clearly looks as though he’s coveting the much better, more interesting Shelton role.  Despite being the hotshot lawyer, Rice never comes across as particularly intelligent.  He’s always three steps behind Shelton and only catches up by the good fortune of an astounding clue dropping in his lap.  He seems more like a slick, ambulance chaser than a formidable opponent in the intellectual battle with Shelton.

Butler had police protection after a series of threatening phone calls demanding he "quit the movie".

What I particularly liked about LAC is that it doesn’t shy away from showing the violence.  It’s pretty bloody in parts and has benefited from not being neutered to get a PG-13 rating.  Too many movies feel compromised by chasing the PG-13 rating, and this flick shows what a difference that freedom to just tell a story can make.

While ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is never exactly fraught with tension, and the final table-turning is plainly obvious, it’s well made, has a great performance by Butler at it’s centre, there are a few good ‘jump’ moments and it’s never boring.  And that’s all we really need to expect from thriller.




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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

27 responses to “Droid has a good time with the “Law Abiding Citizen””

  1. lord bronco says :

    Thanks for the review droid-definitely sounds like a rent! Do we get to see gerard butler’s massively steroid enhanced Abs of Doom?

    We better, or i’m gonna go back to worshipping hugh jackman!

    • Droid says :

      No blatant ab shots per se, but there is the scene where he strips naked when the cops roll up at his place to arrest him. I’m still not sure why that happened.

  2. Jarv says :

    Poor old Gerard.

    Such promise being wasted

  3. tombando says :


  4. xiphos0311 says :

    eh…maybe catch it on cable.

  5. Jarv says :

    Equilibrium was good.

  6. koutchboom says :

    This looked like a lot of fun. Just looked like a solid renter though, didn’t scream that it needed my $20 to go see.

  7. Droid says :

    Koutch, it costs you 20 bucks to go see a movie? Just you, or is it because you have to see it with the missus?

    I have an unlimited card (monthly fee, unlimited movies), so it’s just a question of if I can be arsed going to the cinema or not.

    And to clarify this flick for everyone, it’s a solid rental for sure. No need to go to the cinema for it. A good beer and pizza flick.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah its $18 on the most expensive nights, over $20 if its 3-D. We usually try to go on cheap nights so its only $12 though. I want a fucking Unlimited card!

  8. Jarv says :

    Yeah, it does reek of a beer and pizza film this,

  9. Droid says :

    I liked Equilibrium. It was decent. Haven’t seen Ultraviolet even though I “acquired” it at least 2 years ago.

  10. Jarv says :

    Equilibrium was fun. That’s all.

    Of course, if you look hard at it, it’s pretty easy to see major suckage in there

  11. koutchboom says :

    Equilibrium = God. That movie is awesome.

  12. Droid says :

    Equilibrium was dumb but it was entertaining. I hardly remember it now, except Sean Bean was in it and Bales kids pretending they were from the ‘Village of the Damned’.

  13. Droid says :

    Yeah thats the one. Bean was Bales partner. If I remember correctly Bean was caught hoarding artwork or some shit (a big brother no no) and got gun kata’d.

    • Droid says :

      As a director, I think Wimmer is a lot like Snyder. They both like for their flicks to have a style, but they don’t know why they SHOULD have a style.

  14. koutchboom says :

    I think Wimmer should write Snyder’s next movie. Man what would that be?

  15. just pillow talk says :

    This definitely sounds like a rental, nothing wrong with that though.

    And Equilibrium is good. The Bale slice move is quality.
    I do think midgets would have been cool doing gun kata shit in that movie though.

    I mean, that would throw you for a fucking loop, doing your gun kata shit and lo and behold, bullets are hitting your nuts because of some gun kata midget whom you never saw coming.

  16. lord bronco says :

    Ha ha-Gunkata/equilibrium is one of decades top 10 movies-however-it does tire with the orwellian bits upon repeated viewings.

    Ultraviolet is indeed the ultimate abyss of suck. My little quote-that little film that almost destroyed two careers-millas and wimmers.

    Could Meryl streep have salvaged ultraviolet? no. Sissy spacek? no. Kate Beckinsdale. no. Kate Hudson? no.

    the list goes on and on.

    shoulda been Bale.

  17. tombando says :

    I just saw Taken for the first time. Pretty good, basically another Chuck Norris or Segal flick frankly, but it was done fairly well.

  18. koutchboom says :

    Hahah 1 view today and it was not me! Nice. I just watched it this morning I was wondering if someone had reviewed it.

  19. koutchboom says :

    Ahhhh another difference in time periods….Jamie Foxx’s TV I rewound it to make sure it changed.

    Though we’ll call it the Marley and Me experience. In 30 years a dog doesn’t age a day the people don’t age a day they get kids and computers are the only things that change.

  20. koutchboom says :

    Yeah totally agree with you about this. Though the big reveal of how its all being done ALMOST ALMOST made me not like it, but it was too much fun not to like. Just a fun thriller. Well made and well acted.

    Agree with you as well about Jamie Foxx, he seemed pretty stoopid.

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