Friday, 27 November 2009
Law Abiding Citizen - Review
After experiencing the hard hitting, slow moving beauty of The White Ribbon less than 24 hours earlier, for the 'Friday Review' I decided to opt for something that required less thinking. Brought to us by the man who had the balls - and the stupidity - to remake The Italian Job, F. Gary Gray and starring two creditable leads in Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler we have that all nonsense, all action, answer: Law Abiding Citizen.
After an inexplicably brutal attack, the film tells the story of a man (Butler) who decides to exact justice on his family's killers, as well as challenging the painful flaws of the criminal justice system in the United States. On paper the story actually sounds quite reasonable, mimicking similar revenge tales such as Tony Scott's Man On Fire.
For the most part it's surprisingly an immense amount of fun, with the film makers creating a large amount of tension as the story progresses and Butler's character becoming much more erratic in his targets as he starts to focus on the district attorney's office of Philadelphia fronted by Jamie Foxx. The killings themselves were quite brutal, verging on Saw territory, involving some unrealistic gadgets and methods used, not so much to simply kill his victims but instead totally torture them. Gerard Butler increasingly became more of a super-villain than a mere 'law abiding citizen'.
The main problem with the film was the same pitfalls that film's of this genre usually face. At the start you truly felt for Butler's character, frankly who wouldn't want to seek vengeance on the people who killed their own families, that in a sense, is justified. Where it wandered into the obscene was when the convoluted and convenient back story was revealed where he just happened to be a genius and trained in Black Ops for the US government where he created gadgets (Q from James Bond any body?) to kill people discreetly.
Then there is Jamie Foxx who puts out a smashing performance as the straight talking attorney, who started the whole revenge plot rolling when he cut a deal with one of the killers to testified for a shorter jail term. This itself could have actually had the makings of an interesting court room drama where the American justice system is questioned and criticised beyond repair but the honest truth is, this film just had too much brawn for there to be any such development.
Entertaining, explosive and I could definitely think of worse ways to kill two hours. However the sad truth is there is far more entertaining and better realised revenge films already out there. Though I applaud the director and screenwriter for trying to challenge the questionable grey areas of the US legal system it simply wasn't intelligent enough to carry these ideas through. It won't change your life, but if you're sick of people talking about vampires and werewolves, this is a good way to take your mind off it.
See This If You Like...
Man On Fire, Taxi Driver, Dead Man's Shoes, Saw
Law Abiding Citizen is in all major cinemas from today.