After his family's murderer walks free, a vengeful man declares
a one-man war against the entire criminal justice system.
Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Written by Kurt Wimmer
Starring Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Colm Meaney,
Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Regina Hall, Viola Davis
Law Abiding Citizen is a rollercoaster. Not at all the film I was expecting. It's like Taken, if Liam Neeson was a sadistic psychopath. This is a film that starts out as a revenge thriller and evolves into a terrorist movie, with the same guy filling both roles as the revenger and the terrorist. Gerard Butler is a crazy bastard who believes the justice system is corrupt and poisonous, so he plans to tear it down to make a statement. Jamie Foxx plays the lawyer standing in his way. While not a critical darling, fans have embraced this one as a cult classic, and I can see why. It's viciously violent, insanely over-the-top, and actually makes us think about how effective the justice system really is.
Butler is Clyde Shelton, a family man turned brutal avenger after his wife and daughter are murdered in a home invasion. The man who kills them cuts a deal and walks free. Ten years later, Clyde hunts him down and tortures him to death. He begins an elaborate plan of action that gets so many people killed. His lawyer at the time, Nick Rice (Foxx), is a selfish tool of the bureaucracy who struggles to really learn the lesson Clyde is trying to impart. At first, you're kinda on Clyde's side. But as the victims turn innocent, and Clyde takes more pleasure in committing citywide terrorist acts, that sympathy goes right out the window.
I thought Gerard Butler did a great job, while Jamie Foxx kinda phoned it in. Still, the film is a wild ride from start to finish. Clyde Shelton can be called an antihero or a straight-up villain, depending on how you empathize with him. Regardless, the film is a memorable turn for Butler and a vicious indictment of the criminal justice system.