Saturday, 9 January 2010

Law Abiding Citizen - Dir. Felix Gary Gray

‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is your typical and quite lacklustre American vigilante thriller. Clyde (Gerard Butler) avenges the death of his wife and daughter ten years after they were killed by home invaders. By using every little technological gizmo available in the twenty-first century to exact his retribution among those he believes have wronged him and his family in the most brutal and satisfying fashion. While Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is the hot-shot lawyer who first tried Clyde’s family’s killers and is now paying the price for making a deal with one of the men to turn on his partner and send him to death row.

Despite plenty of inventive mind-numbing violence on show, this film suffers from two major drawbacks in my opinion which restrict ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ from simply being an enjoyable action-thriller and instead turns F. Gary Gray’s latest film into nothing more than just another throwaway film. The first is the repetitive nature of the film’s structure which eventually follows the increasingly boring narrative route of a dubious moral confrontation between Clyde (Butler) and Nick (Jamie Foxx), followed by an elaborate death sequence. Before the two men meet again and have another moral and ethical tussle and start the cycle over, and over, and over, and over again with nothing in-between. Instead of enjoying the film for what it is, a popcorn-flick, you are instead constantly questioning the motives of the characters and what the central point/theme of the film is trying to communicate to the audience.

Secondly, despite having both Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler in prominent roles and a backroom cast containing the likes of Gregory Itzin, Bruce McGill and Sarah Lowell there isn’t one dominant character in the film. Both Butler and Foxx put forward barely adequate performances which allow the audience just a brief insight into the minds of the morally ambiguous Clyde and the strict judicial employee Nick. This insufficient characterisation also detracts heavily on the already ridiculous ending, not because we don’t expect it, but that we don’t understand it. When the lights go up in the cinema, you will be left questioning the whole moral dilemma the film has placed forth and in essence, what was the ACTUAL message of the film itself. Believe me it isn’t as clear cut as it seems considering the scenes that have gone before. It must also be noted however that Kurt Wimmer’s script does not act favourably toward the actors or actresses either. Most of the scenes which contain potential between Butler and Foxx simply end on a profanity and a simple yes or no answer. Not exactly Oscar winning material.

With a gleaming Hollywood cast of Jamie Foxx, Bruce McGill and the safe-grossing Gerard Butler, ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ certainly had potential to be something more than just another ‘revenge/retribution picture’, but unfortunately a poor script, a terrible plot and awkward pacing make this film one to miss this year.
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