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  • Law Abiding Citizen
    • Law Abiding Citizen
    • Runtime:108 min
    • Release Date:2014-11-01 19:00:56
    • Director: F. Gary Gray
    • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Law Abiding Citizen
Auhtor:

   

A man's wife and little girl are murdered and one of the men accused
gets a deal from the District Attorney's Office. The man (Butler)who is
more upset at the injustice of not bringing the killer to trial than
the killer getting off goes out for some payback. Despite being behind
bars if he wants you dead, you're dead. He makes demands and let's hope
you don't fall short of meeting them. This is an interesting movie with
some fascinating story lines. I would recommend watching this piece of
action. I found myself cheering for the bad guy because he was far more
interesting than anyone else in this movie. Oh and without giving
anything a way, I wouldn't answer that cell phone!

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The state calls its own violence 'law', but that of the individual
'crime'." – Max Stirner

Today's trashy B movies often say more about the world than high-minded
fare by celebrated directors. Case in point the low budget flicks of
Romero, Assayas and Gerard Butler's last trashy action flick, "Gamer".

"Law Abiding Citizen" is a bit harder to get a reading on. On one hand
it's another silly anarchist fantasy, in which a father whose family is
murdered blows the world to hell because the Law let the criminals free
(ie the terrorist chic of "Death Wish", "Dirty Harry", "Fight Club",
"The Brave One", "Dark Knight", "V For Vendetta", "Taken" etc), whilst
on the other it's a pretty ambiguous (ie the writers are totally
confused) look at terrorism, law, justice and the collapse of moral
clarity.

So here we have Gerard Butler playing a weapons expert who becomes
symbolic of both Western militarism and medieval tribalism. When his
women (his daughter and wife) are killed and raped, this sexual
violation activates Butler's masculine code of honour, prompting him to
open up a can of high-tech woop ass on Philadelphia's elite. The reason
for his terrorism? He believes the city (as personified by actor Jamie
Foxx) is intrinsically selfish, looking out for its own interests and
profits. The goal of Butler's terrorism? To teach the city to be more
violent and less lenient toward criminals.

So what's weird is that this is the only pop fascist film I can think
of where the terrorist is terrorising people to teach them to be more
violent toward terrorists. The Gerard Butler character is not just
exploding into righteous, "purifying violence", but exploding into
violence to teach Jamie Foxx to set aside law, morality, personal gain,
profits, wealth etc in favour for swift, violent retaliation. This is
the George Bush, Dick Cheney, Gulf War styled American fantasy: when
someone breaks into your home, kills your women, children and downs
your World Trade Centres, don't debate, just put aside your personal
interests and kill them.

To highlight this, the film has Jamie Foxx being sworn in (his hand on
the Bible) to the position of District Attorney an hour into the film.
He takes an oath to stand up for the law, personal rights etc, and then
immediately becomes a divine saviour, magically solving puzzles and
guiltlessly transgressing the very laws he swore to uphold, breaking
into private property, snooping in records etc all for the greater
good.

What's bizarre is the way the Jamie Foxx character learns to sidestep
Butler's lesson. Butler wants Foxx to "put aside his personal desires,
don't debate and just kill", but when the time comes for Foxx to kill
Butler, Foxx's character finds a way to win without pulling the trigger
himself. He literally infiltrates Butler's terrorist cell, plants
Butler's own bomb under his bed and tricks Butler into detonating the
bomb on himself.

So you're left with a truly weird ending in which the hero (Jamie Foxx)
is still a seemingly nice family guy whose pursuit of self interests
leads to terrorism and who is still too morally righteous to embrace
cold violence, preferring instead innocuous law breaking, subterfuge
and neo-war styled infiltration. In other words he is the perfect Law
Abiding Citizen, in permanent possession of an unacknowledged obscene
underside. This is the complete opposite of all the other films in our
recent wave of post Gulf War "revenge movies" (it's no coincidence that
the last wave of revenge movies coincided with Nixon, Watergate and
Vietnam).

7.9/10 – An interesting, trashy B movie, which should appeal to those
who salivate over Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and more recently, Jason
Stathamm and Vin Diesel. Gerard Butler, who produced this film and
bought its script, is the real auteur of this picture, and was once a
lawyer. Though he intends his film to be a simple fantasy attack on
sleazy lawyers, the confusion of the artists behind "Law Abiding
Citizen" allows the film to unwittingly touch upon a bit more.

Worth one viewing.

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That's it. I'm done.

Hollywood can't even make mindless action without screwing it up with
unnecessary plot devices and twists and misguided moralising.

Why can't I as a simple everyday punter expect a decent B movie with a
few good kills and maybe some dumb jokes? Nooooooo, not in this day and
age of Lakeview Terrace, The Brave One, Death Sentence and Law Abiding
Citizen.

The opening scene apparently justifies the final 90 unnecessary
minutes. Gerard Butler plays Clyde, the victim of a home invasion that
goes wrong. He and his wife are beaten and stabbed and his young
daughter is killed. He alone survives.

(Rethinking the events of the home invasion: two guys wearing masks
knock on Clyde's front door and immediately hit him with a bat, (the
cats-eye would have saved him), one of the thugs continues beating him,
the other takes a few trinkets from the shelf and then says "Let's go".
Seriously, you plan a home invasion, get the masks and bat, steel
yourself and bail out after a few knick-knacks? In short you risk 20
years for a murder rap for a maximum couple grand, where is the logic
there?) Just wait folks, if you think that wound me up for no reason it
only gets worse.

Clyde is now recovered and meeting with his lawyer Nick, played by
Jamie Foxx. Nick is a young hotshot who cares more about his conviction
strike rate than justice, and as he has concerns that the two
defendants might slip on a technicality and ruin his %, he cuts a deal
with one to rat on the other.

Now of course the real bad guy is the one who squeals, and he is smarmy
and smug about the way things turn out. Clyde is not happy with this
unexpected twist, and I know what you're thinking, but this isn't Death
Sentence or Death Wish 2, it blazes its own trail. Unfortunately
though, you couldn't find a more ludicrous and infuriating trail than
the one they choose here.

My moral? Sometimes doing the same thing over isn't necessarily a bad
thing, as long as you do it in an entertaining manner.

Cut to 10 years later >>>>>>>> From here on in LAC takes the blackest
of black turns, and in doing so loses every shred of credibility.

Nick and his wife are 10 years older – and I tell ya they don't look
like they have aged a day! They now have a 10 year old daughter of
their own.

The squealing bad guy, now out of jail, is murdered in a brutal manner
by a cold and calculated killer. Nick is set on the case and
immediately suspects that Clyde must have something to do with it,
which makes sense given earlier events.

They take Clyde into custody and a pointless game of cat and mouse
begins. In the initial interrogation Clyde out-lawyers the lawyer, in a
way that even the dopiest person watching must have seen coming, but
not hot-shot Nicky.

Clyde promises to tell all as long as his simple demands are met, and
things get more and more wacky and frustrating from here til the
credits roll downwards.

Clyde remains in prison however the bodycount rises at a frantic rate,
as everyone associated with the case is systematically picked off in a
methodical and astonishingly convoluted manner.

Nick and his buddies suspect that Clyde must have someone on the
outside, and his methods and background slowly become more clear. In
one of movie-making's stupidest techniques, Nick must be in attendance
at every discovery so he can grow more frustrated and involved, doesn't
anyone have a phone so that they might call the local cops to check on
something rather than take a helicopter across the city? The last 30
minutes is an exercise in p*sstaking once the full scope of the
situation is revealed, I could see it coming and still wanted no part
in it when it arrived.

Law Abiding Citizen is grandiose and overblown, a twisted revenge
fantasy gone awry with some awkward posturing and moralising thrown in
for good measure. I like a little violence in my movies – even
pointless violence – but trying to justify it with a plot that has more
holes than Ricky Ponting's Advance Hair weave just sh*ts me.

Law Abiding Citizen wants to be seen as Se7en crossed with Saw, but to
me at least it is nothing more than unnecessary crossed with sh*t.

Final Rating – 5 / 10. A B-movie that loses a grade through an inane
plot and an inexcusably bizarre message.

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