If there’s one trailer that got me excited it was the trailer for Law Abiding Citizen, the latest movie by F. Gary Gray. There was something about Gerard Butler saying it’s gonna get biblical that got me all juiced up. And Law Abiding Citizen does live up to the trailer except for the last 15 minutes when not only the how in this story about a man who’s killing people while being in prison, is supplied to the audience but also the ending is too Hollywood for it’s own good. A bit more guts from the writers and director and we would have gotten a Silence Of The Lambs like ending which would be much more suitable as the audience, or at least me, is cheering for the bad guy. And in this case case bad guy might not be the right term as we’re dealing with a Paul Kersey-like character who’s motives are clearly explained and justify his actions somewhat and at the same time the good guys are portrayed as arrogant pricks.
The movie shines in the first acts. Gerard Butler is Clyde Shelton who’s family gets murdered for no good reason. The criminals get caught but one of them, the uber-sleazy Darby, gets to make a deal with the D.A. for a testimony against some big shot criminal named Ames. So he gets off with a low sentence and this pisses of Clyde who pops up ten years later on the day of the execution of the criminal Darby testified against to unleash his vengeance scheme. And as the trailer already mentions to us: Clyde isn’t just a spy, he’s a brain. His talent is that he can kill everyone with an elaborate scheme when hit-men fail. I wonder if such a talent is something that comes up with an ETA test.
So far, so good. Clyde’s vengeance on the people directly responsible for the deaths of his wife and child is dirty but satisfying for Clyde as well as the audience. When Clyde gets brought in after these killings he starts taking out people responsible for the deal with Darby. Lawyers, judges, the mayor and the entire justice department is now the target of Clyde who’s in jail. So how is he orchestrating all of this? That is one of the questions we have during this movie and when we don’t know this movie is at its best. Even though Clyde is taking an entire city as his hostage he’s the anti-hero. You cheer for him and not the arrogant character of Jamie Foxx as the DA who’s the target of Clyde’s vengeance. Clyde schemes as well as his rants are amusing. From start to finish this is Butler’s show.
With lesser actors this would have been a B-movie as the plot is pretty preposterous and the answer to how he orchestrates everything from prison is unbelievable. And his skills do require the same amount of disbelief as well. But nevertheless it’s all very entertaining and that’s what this movie it out to be.
I just wished it didn’t had a Hollywood ending.