What's the scariest kind of villain? A tough one that's going to beat the shit out of you? The crazy one? The intelligent one? How about all three of them mashed together in a crazy, smart, brutal man hell bent on spreading a message that questions the limits and grounded logic of justice. Sounds pretty sick, right? Well that's Clyde our resident villain (or is he the good guy?) in "Law Abiding Citizen". The film is a slick thriller with a twisted devious side to it that comes across as ridiculously entertaining - even with its plot holes.
Clyde, Gerard Bulter, watched his family raped and murdered right in front of his eyes during a break in. Yet, our resident hero (or is he the antagonist?) Nick, Jamie Foxx if you didn't look at the box art, is an assistant District Attonery looking to keep a solid conviction rate and makes a deal with the men letting one get off light to get the other one the death penalty. You see, this doesn't sit well with Clyde who believes justice shouldn't be compromised. So he goes off, with a set of skills that would make you want to cry yourself to sleep at night, to exact his revenge and spread a message of how ineffective our justice system is. To quote Clyde with the best line of the film: "I'm gonna pull the whole thing down. I'm gonna bring the whole fuckin' diseased, corrupt temple down on your head. It's gonna be biblical."
This film is a rocking ride throughout. For a 'revenge' thriller, it has quite a few moments that took me by surprise (some being on the more confused side - like the odd graveyard attack), but suspend your belief film audiences and let yourself be taken by the quick pace and edginess of the film. The films flaws come in the idea that it tries to be a smart thriller, and it does work at times, but essential plot holes and an over the top story tend to make it feel far less realistic for its messages to take hold on the audience. Just go with it though and "Law Abiding Citizen" feels like a solid fun time.
The acting is actually what really drew me into it. Gerard Butler isn't making my list for greatest actors ever, but I'll be damned if he hasn't been doing a lot of films I'm digging lately. His performance in this film is quite different than his others and it was impressive to see that darker streak in him. Some of the character work for both Foxx and Butler seem very rushed and thinly painted on to get to the main plot but they carry their own more often than not through the film.
"Law Abiding Citizen" was a fun Thriller packed with insane moments and surreal dilemmas. Don't take it too seriously though (as some of the messages make you want to do) as it is riddled with lots of little plot holes and odd moments that undermine the experience.
Written By Matt Reifschneider