Donald Judges The Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding CitizenGerald Butler and Jamie Foxx go head to head in a cat and mouse tale of domestic terrorism in Law Abiding Citizen.   The initial trailer that I saw for this movie had me rooting for Clyde Shelton (Gerald Butler’s character).  He’s the guy that manages to survive a home invasion that brutally ends the lives of his family.   Clyde feels that the American judicial system has revealed has failed him, so he has decided to teach the city of Philadelphia a lesson.  It’s a classic ordinary citizen takes on corrupt government, but with extreme measures.

But then later there were other trailers that seemed to portray Jamie Foxx’s character in a better light.  As it got closer to opening day it became obvious that Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx’s character) was the actual hero of the movie.  Nick was the prosecuting lawyer that Clyde trusted to make sure his family’s killers got the punishment they so deserved.  Nick is not proud of his complicity at the trial, but he does not think that gives Clyde the right to go on a mass killing spree.  This movie is about the conflict between these two men, not just physical in your face conflict, but also an intense intellectual debate.   Who’s the hero and who’s the villain?  That’s up for the individual to decide.

Law Abiding Citizen 

The Film (may contain spoilers)

Clyde Shelton is a family man that likes to tinker around a little bit.  He’s the type of man that knows his way around a soldering iron.  It’s an average day and he’s spending it with his wife and child when suddenly there’s a knock at the door, and it’s not Avon.  Nope its two men who have decided to force their way into Clyde’s home and do violent things to Clyde and his family.  Clyde is quickly bound and gagged and is forced to endure witnessing their violence against his family.

It’s at this point that the audience is introduced to Nick Rice (Foxx), Nick works for the city’s District Attorney, and although Nick is not a graduate of Harvard he is a highly talented prosecuting attorney.  Nick is so good at his job that he can claim a 96% conviction rate.  But there lies the problem, Nick is so committed to keeping his conviction percentage high that he is willing to lay down with dogs.  Nick makes a deal with one of the men that had invaded Clyde’s home if he testifies against the other suspect.  Nick sees that some justice is better than no justice, and it also keeps his conviction rate in the stratosphere, so what’s the problem?

The problem is Clyde.  He witnessed enough of the crime to know that the man Nick bargained with was probably the one that actually killed his family.  Nick has let him down and nothing illustrates this more than the killer shaking hands with Nick in front of the cameras.  Even the ambitious Nick feels a bit dirty as he sees Clyde watching from behind the crowd.  Then Nick and everyone else moves on with their lives, everyone that is except Clyde.

Clyde spends ten years coming up with a plan to gain revenge on everyone that he holds accountable for the injustice of the actual killer getting only a couple of years of jail time.  And the thing about Clyde is that he’s pretty good at coming up with these types of plans.  It turns out that Clyde used to work for the government.  In the wetworks business he was a brain, a strategist and tactician that specialized in killing a target without even being in the room.  His specialty was killing the type of individuals that carpet bombing couldn’t injure.  He’s the type of fictional character that you would pay a million dollars for ten minutes of his time for him to tell you how to go about killing someone that logic dictates can’t be killed by conventional means.  Clyde brings this expertise into play, not only when he cruelly murders both of the home invaders, but also as he starts picking off anyone that had been involved in the murder trial.

And now since Clyde has revealed himself to be a murderer as well Nick is brought in as a prosecuting attorney against the man that he failed so many years earlier.  Initially Nick is just after a quick confession, and of course another notch on his list of easy convictions, but he quickly realizes that there is not going to be anything easy about Clyde Shelton.

Gerald Butler is fantastic in this movie.  He delivers a performance that speaks of the brilliance, intelligence, and passion of a man that no amount of revenge will ever satisfy.  He wants everyone to pay for the apparent corruption in our legal system.  Jamie Foxx also brings in a great performance in a role that is much more complex than the normal blind musician roles that the man keeps getting lumped in.  Neither of these men are 100% good or evil, and both have blood on their hands.  Kudos also goes to Viola Davis who plays the mayor.  She plays the type of mayor that any citizen of America would be proud to have for their city.

Law Abiding Citizen 

Final Thoughts…

Law Abiding Citizen is a good movie to watch and it has a lot of things going for it throughout the majority of the movie.  It is only in the final scenes that things start coming apart a bit.  Clyde is not as brilliant as he was during the rest of the movie, and is strangely incapable of deactivating a device that he himself made previously.   Besides an ending that falls a bit flat this is a movie is well worth watching.


Law Abiding Citizen Theatrical Poster


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