Rating: * *
Verdict: Absurd plot and stomach-turning violence ruins this tense thriller.
Law Abiding Citizen stars Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, and that's probably the best that can be said about what is an overly violent thriller. While the story gives the initial impression of being a drama concerned with the American justice system and victims' rights for justice, it is quickly overshadowed by vindictive and gratuitous violence and a plot that gets increasingly absurd.
Director F. Gary Gray (A Man Apart) sets the tone from the opening sequence when Clyde Shelton (Butler) and his wife and daughter are the victims of a particularly brutal home invasion by two men - with Clyde the only one who survives the attack. He is devastated when the district attorney on the case, Nick Rice (Foxx), does a deal with the worst of the two offenders, which allows him to walk free while his co-offender is sentenced to death row. When this sentence is carried out 10 years later, Clyde returns and seeks revenge - not just on their murderers, but on anyone involved in the case.
At the top of the film we're led to believe Clyde is an ordinary, everyday guy who has been powerless to make the justice system work for the victims of serious crime, rather than for the district attorneys trying to keep their conviction rates high. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent Clyde is a lot smarter and a little bit crazier than anyone realised, and when it comes to his elaborate revenge, let's just say he takes it a little further than the average person would ever dream.
If you're after suspense, large-scale explosions, and you can tolerate violence you'd expect to see in films such as Saw, then you'll be able to relax and enjoy this fast-paced thriller. If, however, you're hoping for a story whose twists and turns have an ounce of believability, then sadly you'll be out of luck.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx
Director: F. Gary Gray
Running time: 108 mins
Rating: R18 (violence and content that may disturb)