Law-Abiding Citizen (2009)

Rating: C+

Dir: F. Gary Gray
Star: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Bruce McGill, Colm Meaney

While this is, unquestionably, total bollocks, it is largely total bollocks of the entertaining sort, and so gets off with a slap on the wrist and passing grade. After two thugs murder the wife and child of Clyde Shelton (Butler), prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx), cuts a deal with one to testify against the other, figuring one death penalty is better than none, even though Clyde is enraged by the decision. Ten years later, the execution finally takes place but is sabotaged away from the painless death anticipated; it’s nothing compared to the dismemberment served up on the other perp, hours later.

It’s not hard for Rice to track down the man responsible, but from his jail-cell, Clyde begins a campaign to bring down those her perceives as responsible for the injustices served. Turns out he spent the decade as a black ops assassination expert for the CIA, and has many, many ways to carry out his revenge. I think I finally realized how dumb this was when supposedly hot-shot lawyer Rice fails to spot that Shelton’s “confession” is, glaringly obviously, not a confession at all. At that point, I decided to stop trying to make sense of it, and enjoy the ridiculous excess. I knew Shelton would prove unstoppable, out-guessing Rice at every turn – until, right at the end.

Though, I must admit, the ludicrous nature of his means of getting his revenge while being held in solitary confinement boggled even me – I’m amazed the makers even tried to pull it off, and with a straight face, too. Butler, as ever, is fun to watch in this kind of thing, though Foxx hardly seems challenged by his part [they actually swapped roles prior to production, which gives you an idea of how interchangeable the two characters are]. However, the audience’s sympathies are so entirely with Clyde that this acquires a certain subversive quality, and that certainly adds to the guilty pleasures to be found here.