Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Christian Stolte, Josh Stewart, Viola Davis, Gregory Itzin, Richard Portnow, Annie Corley
Law Abiding Citizen tells the story of Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler), an ordinary man who becomes the victim of a home invasion. During the crime, he witnesses the brutal attack and killing of his family. When the perpetrators, Darby and Ames (Christian Stolte & Josh Stewart, respectively) are caught, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is assigned by the District Attorney’s office to prosecute the case. In this film, we see how an everyday man can be changed when the judicial system fails to obtain justice for the crimes against his family.
First let me say I was not overly excited to see this film, despite my intense fandom for Gerard Butler. However, a Girls Night Out found me in a half-filled theater checking out the hype. I was pleasantly surprised by this film.
Make no mistake Gerard Butler’s performance is amazing. As he transforms from a loving family man to an intelligent man with a mysterious past and a disturbingly tactical mind who exacts his revenge simply to prove a point, every moment is believable.
Pardon me while I gush for a moment. Gerard Butler is one of those actors to be taken very seriously. The breadth of his work is varied. He is best known for his work as a leading man in romantic comedies the likes of P. S. I Love You and physically dominant roles in movies like 300. He has also had a stint in family film with Nim’s Island, enjoyed some grittier works such as RocknRolla and displayed a broad range in more emotionally evocative films such as Dear Frankie and One More Kiss . Certainly I must mention the strength of his performance in The Phantom of the Opera. In each of his roles, Gerard Butler is committed to suspending reality and drawing his audience into the story. His performance in Law Abiding Citizen is no different.
As for Jamie Foxx, it must be said he does have a definite talent as an actor. I doubt anyone would argue here. His performance in Ray put him on the map and with good reason. However, in my opinion, Jamie Foxx has always seemed a tad too cocky. Unfortunately, even in moments wrought with emotion, it comes across as insincere. I believe it is because of this I was able to enjoy his performance in Law Abiding Citizen. His character, Nick Rice, is a man climbing the ladder in the District Attorney’s office who will do anything to advance his career. One of his larger character flaws is his disregard for others, including his own family. The only people his character shows true concern for are his mentor, Jonas Cantrell (Bruce McGill), and his protege, Sarah Lowell (Leslie Bibb). Jamie Foxx’s performance was good for the most part, though there were times when he seemed to lose his character a bit.
The supporting cast is star-studded and fantastic. Unfortunately, they tend to fall into the background in this movie. The story is 100% about Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) and Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and you are aware of that every moment.
Those of you looking for action and violence may actually be disappointed. There are plenty of beautiful explosions and even a car chase. The violence is there; however, it is largely implied. The director was clever in his filming. The truly violent scenes are still served without seeing all of the gory details. This movie does not provide copious amounts of gore for the sake of making the audience squeamish, which I found refreshing.
The story is smart and the audience spends most of the movie wondering how Clyde Shelton is able to pull off the crimes he’s committing. My only complaint is that not enough attention is spent on Clyde Shelton’s past. Learning about his past comes out of nowhere and is quite a revelation. In addition to being very interesting, his past lends itself to the character’s development.
My final decision on Law Abiding Citizen is go see it. I think everyone will get something out of this film – whether you are a fan of the actors and their performances, or a story that is not predictable (a rarity in movies lately), or the violence. Even if you do not see this one in the theaters, catch it on dvd when it is released.
For more on the film, visit the Official Website.
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