Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Sometimes, my friends, you’re sitting in your comfy theater seat sipping on a drink watching a movie that’s seriously straddling that fine line between being really good entertainment and being really stupid. Every so often it drifts over one of these lines and you’re thinking, ‘damn, this movie is pretty damn good’ then it creeps back over to the stupid part but doesn’t commit completely to either, until that tense moment when a critical something happens. That movie has finally committed itself to either being awesome or leaving you saying ‘C’mon man! That couldn’t happen!’ The thriller ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ drifted to the wrong side and blessed us with that ‘C’mon man!’ moment.

Clyde (Gerard Butler) is just a hard working family man playing beads with his little girl when he gets home invaded by the completely psychopathic Clarence Darby (Christian Stolte) and his crew of one. Now I don’t know exactly where Clyde lives but where I live I look through the peep hole before opening knocking doors. Anyway Darby guts Clyde, who survives, but the same can’t be said for his wife and baby girl.

Now meet super ambitious assistant District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) who is trying Darby for the murder of Clyde’s family. Unfortunately an asshole judge has thrown out some critical evidence in this otherwise slam dunk case forcing Nick to make a deal with Darby’s lawyer resulting in Darby getting a much lighter than deserved sentence. This does not make Clyde happy. Nick tries to explain that they did get the death sentence for one of the other perps which is better than nothing, but Clyde is still very unhappy and holds Nick personally responsible for this perceived miscarriage of justice.

Ten years pass, Nick has shot up the old justice ladder forgetting completely about Clyde, but Clyde hasn’t forgotten about him or the broken legal system. It’s taken a while but now Clyde is exacting his revenge. Those clowns that killed his family? They

got nothing good coming their way. That stupid ass judge? Wouldn’t want to be her. The entire city of Philadelphia? Will be a hole in the ground if Clyde has his way. What’s amazing is the Nick has Clyde locked up in jail with a full blown confession yet he is still finding a way to indiscriminately kill folks from behind bars. How? Well we will learn simply from watching the trailer for this movie that Clyde is some kind of super duper government remote control killing machine. Think MacGyver gone really, really bad, and there’s nothing they can do to stop him. Almost nothing. Clyde has one more trick up his sleeve and it’s up to Nick to figure out what Clyde plans to do and how he plans to do it before everything and everyone goes kablooey.

The great thing about movies, at least for me, is that they don’t have to make total and complete sense for me to think that a movie is good solid entertainment. The electric company badgering me every month to pay my bill makes sense because that’s real life, and since I live real life every single day, I don’t care to see real life all that often when I go to the movies. On occasion, but not all that often. This is why I found the first couple of acts of director F. Gary Gray’s movie ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ so entertaining. Yes, it’s plenty implausible but at least it is controlled implausibility. You have the talented Jamie Foxx as a tough, smart, driven prosecutor… though I have to admit that I had to take their word for his character being ‘smart’ because they sure didn’t write him all that smart. Then you have Gerard Butler as the angry explosive dude, and Gerard Butler does angry and explosive quite well. On top the two fine leads in this movie you will have too look pretty far to find a supporting cast as solid as this movie, a cast that features Colm Meaney, Viola Davis, Bruce McGill, Regina Hall and Leslie Bibb just to name a few. The story is interesting, the movie is swiftly going about its business, it’s brutal, it’s violent and it’s even a little funny.

Then it happened. That moment when a movie that was pretty implausible to begin with throws caution to the wind and goes straight up silly. The special thing about ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is that, depending on who you are, there might be various instances where this moment of complete ridiculousness occurs, if it occurs at all, but almost the entire third act of ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ felt like something out of an extra super violent episode of ‘The A-Team’. Controlled implausibility has given way to uncontrolled, unbridled silliness and it just didn’t seem to fit into flow that the filmmakers had set to that point. Oh well.

Fortunately the last act of ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ wasn’t so bad that it completely invalidated the first two acts, as the movie was still a solid popcorn munching diversion from the banalities of real life, it just felt like it could’ve been just tiny bit better. Just a tiny bit.

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