Law Abiding Citizen


Genre:  Suspense, action

Director:  F. Gary Gray

Running Time:  109 mins

Budget:  $53 million

Released:  16 October 2009 (USA)


A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family’s killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.


Law Abiding Citizen is a film that I’ve been wanting to see for a while now and I really can’t see why it has received generally unfavorable reviews, because I for one think it’s a great film, with the exception of the lackluster ending, but I’ll get back to that.

This film doesn’t mess around, within the first couple of minutes, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) and his family are brutally attacked resulting in the death of Shelton’s wife and daughter.  After Shelton’s lawyer, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), who’s main concern in life is maintaining his 96% conviction rate, makes a deal for a plea bargain, one of the perpetrators gets death row while the man responsible for the murders is freed after a few years.

Fast forward ten years and Clyde Shelton is ready to exact his revenge.  What I like about this film is that Shelton doesn’t stop at just murdering the man responsible for ruining his life, in fact he sees the entire justice department as a corrupt and flawed system and as a result he begins to systematically erase all the individuals responsible for allowing Clarence Darby (the murderer) to escape the death penalty.  What ensues is a suspense-filled series of events that will leave you guessing what’s around every corner.  What adds to the suspense is that Shelton is an engineer, one that puts his skills to good use by devising an intricate plot, employing a series of ‘colourful’ disposal methods to defeat his enemies.

Not since 300 has Gerard Butler put on such a great performance.

Sadly, like most things in life, Law Abiding Citizen is not perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed this film up until the ending which I thought ruined an otherwise perfect film.  I grow weary of Hollywood’s bullshit and I think it’s about time they grew some fucking balls and give the audience something brutal and unexpected instead of the tried and trusted, predictable endings that generally kill good movies.  This is why I applaud directors like Colin and Greg Strause, even though AVP: Requiem wasn’t that great, they still had the balls to portray children getting killed, now I’m not advocating child murders but let’s face facts, it happens all the time in real life so why not show something brutal in film every once in a while?  Needless to say Law Abiding Citizen is filled with moments of graphic and intense carnage (a particular prison cell scene and an ‘unexpected call’ come to mind) sure to appease action-thriller fans everywhere.

Jamie Foxx plays Nick Rice, a man so caught up with the law and his 96% conviction rating, that he has become inadvertently corrupt.

I haven’t enjoyed a thriller this much since Taken and excluding the shoddy ending, Law Abiding Citizen is a suspense-filled gem and one worthy of recognition.  It’s about time Gerard Butler flexes his acting muscles, 300 threw him into super-stardom, and if he steers clear of crap like P.S I Love You, and focuses on films like RocknRoller and Law Abiding Citizen, then Butler will have a great career as an action/thriller star.

Judgment: 4/5