Law Abiding Citizen - Blu-ray Review

'watching Foxx spit out comments like 'please fuck this up... so I can destroy you' ticks several of my 'entertainment' boxes'

About five minutes in to Law Abiding Citizen, my Blu-ray copy of it skipped, ran forward two minutes and then started playing again. It's lucky that the small section of film missed was simply a bit of plot exposition between Assistant District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and a random legal extra. If it had been just a few minutes later that the skip had happened, I would of missed ten years of off-screen time.

The reason I point this out is because, except in flashback situations, it isn't particularly normal for films to jump ten years within their first ten minutes. But director F. Gary Gray doesn't want to make a normal out-of-the box thriller here. Not content with a standard good vs evil battle, Gray sets about questioning what those concepts even mean, blurring the line between where Clyde Shelton's (Gerard Butler) vigilantism is needed and where Rice's city sanctioned legal know-how must come in to play.

That isn't to say Gray completely succeeds in his endeavour to break the mould. The end for example, quickly deteriorates into a variety of action cliches which range in influence from The Siege to Shawshank. Also present is that most common of action film problems: the character who isn't a character. Law Abiding Citizen has several, prime suspect number one being Colm Meaney's detective who, whilst apparently important to the plot, speaks little, emotes less and could, quite frankly, be absolutely anybody, anywhere, in any film.

But Gray's aspirations do count for something. Foxx and Butler might not quite be evenly matched (Foxx's acting is in a different league, on a different planet and every cliche in between) but that doesn't mean they don't work when they're going head to head, on or off screen. Gray doesn't exactly help Butler's cause by giving Foxx the best lines but watching the later spit out comments like 'please fuck this up... so I can destroy you' ticks several of my 'entertainment' boxes.

It is refreshing to see a film where the 'good' and the 'bad' aren't necessarily straight forward and whilst it retains its fair share of problems (the torture porn is particularly not needed and smacks of band-wagon riding sensationalism), the fact that it has a healthy 7.2 on IMDb suggests that the critical elite may just have given this an overly harsh bashing. Enjoyable and marginally different, without being quite as revolutionary as Gray no doubt hoped.

Look further...

'This is a B-movie. I don’t need prose. I don’t need well rounded characters. In fact, I don’t particularly want either. I just want to be entertained' - Plus Trailers, 3/5


  1. Great review! I'm one of the people who like this movie and yes, the critics are way off with this one. Sure it may not be Oscar-worthy but it doesn't aim to be and for the most part, it's entertaining. I absolutely agree the torture porn is unnecessary and it's silly to cast someone like Colm Meaney and not give him anything to work with! I probably won't watch this if it weren't for Butler, his performance is worth the full price ticket!

  2. Thanks for that rtm, very kind comments. I enjoyed Foxx's performance more than Butler's but as I say, I do think they make a pretty decent head-to-head double act. Agree with everything else you say and yes, it's almost criminal to waste Meaney.

  3. Good review Sam. This film got destroyed by critics but it's really not that bad at all. I gave it a B-

  4. Which I think is fine and accurate Castor. As I've seen elsewhere, sure: it doesn't aspire for Oscars but it's decent lightweight entertainment.