Law Abiding Citizen

Much to my surprised (as I didn't have high hopes for this film) I was involved and tense throughout. It was a fun film to watch and even had me a proud non-jumper jumping during one scene. It is a battle of wits between Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx for almost the entire film. Nothing in the film is black and white and it lends to the whole atmosphere.

Clyde (Gerard Butler – P.S., I Love You, 300) is spending a quiet evening at home with his wife and daughter. With one knock at the door everything changes for him and his family. When he answers the door two burglars force their way in, beat and stab him, tie Clyde and his wife up. Clyde helplessly watches as one of the men kills both his wife and his daughter.

Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx – Ray, Dreamgirls) is a young assistant D.A. who has an almost perfect conviction rate (96%). He is brilliant, but seems overly concerned with his success rather than fighting for what is right.

Nick gets Clyde's case and even though Clyde has identified the two men he is not a great witness as he kept passing out throughout the ordeal and there is no forensic evidence to tie them to the murders. When one of the men (Christian Stolte – Public Enemies, Leatherheads) offers to testify against the other in order to have his sentence reduced Nick jumps at it. Clyde does not want to give up without a fight and allow one of them to get off with a mere five years behind bars.

We flash forward 10 years and Nick's career has really taken off. He is the number two man in the district attourney's office. Clyde has spent the 10 years plotting revenge for what happened to his family. When he puts his plan in motion it does not seem like anyone can stop him. Even though he is in a high security prison and in solitary confinement for most of the time.

Despite the fact that you pretty much know who is behind all the murder and mayhem from the beginning does not take away from the enjoyment of the film. You still don't really know what is going to happen next.

There are some scenes of gruesome violence, but the most interesting parts are the stuff that is done by the bad guy's intellect. It does not matter that most of it is improbable. It is fun to watch this guy totally outsmart everyone time and time again.

The film does have a message about justice and the legal system. It seems as if there is not too much of a relation between the two anymore in the modern courtroom. Lawyers are overworked and often take/make deals that don't contain one iota of justice. They explore the idea that our justice system is so corrupt that it almost forces the victims to take matters in their own hands to get any sense of justice and then punishes them as a vigilante.

Butler, who since he was the Phantom of the Opera, has not played a bad guy for a while and he seems to revel in it. His character seems to enjoy being evil and smarter than everyone. You cannot really hate him either after all he went through. Butler and Fox play well off of each other with Fox stepping back enough to let Butler's evil character shine.

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