Friday, January 29, 2010

Review - Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

“Well, justice should be harsh Nick... especially for those who denied it to others.”

Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Fox, Colm Meaney
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer

Just released in Australia, already done the rounds in America, this movie hasn’t made the biggest splash. Revenge movies generally try and connect with our darker sides, the part of us that wants to kind of leave civilization behind and go back to an eye for an eye. Law Abiding Citizen seems to take a different track from most of these revenge films but is it successful?

Basic story goes as such, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is frustrated at the justice system when a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killers but also the prosecuting lawyer Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and others involved in the deal. What’s interesting is that Clyde comes off pretty sympathetic yet his revenge targets the innocent as well. In fact the movie gets through the killing of the two killers pretty quickly and the rest of the movies plot is centred on the lawyers who are getting picked off by Clyde. This might of made a very interesting movie to experience however it all seems too rushed to pull of any emotional resonance. Other than Jamie Foxx we don’t get to know the personal lives of the other lawyers which makes them more like body count when they die rather than victims. Also there are plot strands that don’t really seem to go anywhere.

Acting wise everyone does their part, Gerard Butler is the highlight, I could feel his rage, his sorrow and I think he walked the line between victim and killer very well. Jamie Foxx had some good scenes but at times his reading just felt off, like he wasn’t really invested in the character. Other than these two, no one else was given the time to shine, yet again I feel that this movie might have been hacked a bit as there did feel like there should have been more. I did like Colm Meaney as Detective Dunnigan, like others he wasn’t given much to do but his charisma made up for it. In the end though the movie was a battle of wills between Gerard and Jamie and I didn’t get drawn into it. I liked the scenes they had but there could have been so much more.

F. Gary Gray knows how to direct, I’ve seen a few of his movies and I’ve been entertained. The movie looks good yet doesn’t really stand out of the pack, he gives time to scenes and doesn’t over do it allowing time for the story. Now the same problem comes up, it’s like he wanted people to concentrate on the importance of the stories message, yet the way its put together makes it more of a popcorn movie than a movie that has to be thought and mulled about over and over. I honestly can’t say if it Mr Gray’s fault or if it’s the influence of other powers but the word ‘almost’ comes to mind.

As I walked away from the movie I turned to my friend who I had watched it with and started going on about some of the small things. A theory I had about the films ending actually got my friend thinking and he agreed with my theory. I felt smart and started to make my way home, that’s when I realised the movie didn’t actually give me much to work with and I was over analysing. I think this movie is full of possibilities, it could have been excellent, but in the end while it had a lot of positives these are over ridden by the need to turn it into a mindless popcorn movie. I’ll watch this movie again, I’ll probably own it, but it’s a shame as the potential to be great was there.

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