Law Abiding Citizen
If you were to turn off your brain, so to speak, and watch Law Abiding Citizen, it would seem like a pretty unique thriller exploring the justice system of the U.S. However, if you were to start actually thinking about what was happening on screen for even a second, you would realize that the movie doesnít know what itís trying to say about that system, and makes absolutely no sense in doing it.
The premise of the film is that Gerard Butlerís wife and daughter are murdered, but there is inadmissible evidence on one of the guys, so he gets a much lighter sentence because of a plea bargain orchestrated by Jamie Foxx, Butlerís lawyer. Butler is obviously upset, so he takes the next 10 years to figure out his revenge plot. Now, thatís a long ass time if you ask me. Guys go crazy in less time than that obsessing over something like murder of loved ones. Why couldnít he have done it sooner? I donít really know, other than the one murderer who was convicted was being put to death after 10 years, but I think Gerard could have started a little sooner. Although, because it appears that this is an alternate universe where nobody ages, I guess time isnít as important. Seriously, though, not even one wrinkle on either Butler or Foxx. 10 years. Come on.
So Butler starts his revenge by going vigilante on the murderer who got off because of the bad evidence. Then once in jail, he starts killing off other people on the outside, all of which were somehow involved with the plea bargain. How does this happen? Well, obviously Butler is ex-special ops that nobody knew about until the screenwriter decided it was necessary to know about. A ton of stuff happens like that where we find things out simply because they need to be revealed to further the plot. So at each turn, you start to nod your head and go ďohĒ, but then you think about it and none of it is satisfying, and all of it could have been figured out sooner had any person involved just looked in the right place.
The film also has a hard time figuring out what it wants to say about the legal system. Butler is basically trying to bring it all down by exposing the problems inherent in it, so in a way, heís shown as an enlightened revolutionary. Foxx is the main character, because we follow him around to the different crime scenes and thinking sessions (since when do lawyers go to crime scenes with the police anyway?), but for most of the movie, he comes off as someone who plays the system for what it is, and doesnít care that he has to make deals with the murderous type. However, the ending feels as if itís out of the Production Code era, and Butler all of a sudden starts doing crazy things so we start to think of him as the bad guy. Heís sympathetic the whole way through, but then director F. Gary Gray realized he was making a main stream Hollywood garbage fest instead of a subversive, thematically intense thriller, and changed the whole tone.
I thought when it started out, this movie would actually be an interesting twist on the cat and mouse genre. But then it just stops making sense, and I just got mad at it. I can understand how some people have and will enjoy this movie, but I canít get behind it. I like movies that make me think, just not ones that make me think about how nothing makes any sense. Watch out.