Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Law Abiding Citizen" (2009) - Movie Review

“Law Abiding Citizen” is in love with its product that it hurries into the plot like a zombie towards a fearful human. It likes to question the morality of the justice and takes shades in that though unlawfully. It has an ingenious protagonist smart enough to kill anyone from a closed prison cell and an ADA whose sole purpose is to witness those murders. The motivation for the smart man is that he would like to teach the system some justice but importantly to prove every one he can do that. His zest to give a slice of his skill to the city of Philadelphia overcomes his vengeance and his so called proclamation of giving justice the way it should be.

Gerard Butler is the smart man Clyde Shelton whom the District Attorney’s office should not have seen as conviction rate case and make a deal with the bad guy by lawyer Nick played by Jamie Foxx. Two men slaughter his wife and young kid leaving him to die. They did not do their job completely and now it is payback time. After ten years, Clyde has meticulously planned a killing scheme with the people involved in the case. He replaces one of the canisters for the killer in the death row and kidnaps the main man. He calculatedly tortures him and make sure his body gets dismembered with him alive and looking at the mirror of it. After this his victims gets scattered and he elevates from a revenger to a sociopath.

F. Gary Gray’s film fantasizes more than its central character. While Butler’s Clyde executes his victims one by one, Nick watches them as an audience. There are bodies of personnel around Nick to cut the dialogues or move them to their marks and locations. They would be Detective Dunnigan (Colm Meaney) and his partner Detective Garza (Michael Irby) promptly coming whenever Nick and his mentor Jonas (Bruce McGill) are in serious discussion to say, “Dudes, you need to move for the scene to happen in prison cell”.

So the justice is flawed and the moral question of the right and wrong oscillates. The complication and the injustice of the system has been and gets dealt in detail and analyzed in the famous “Law and Order” TV series but here there is no line for that. The killer comes with a cape and justification of his action which are not none. With the primary murderers out of the way, the screenplay has left with the option of eliminating every one till it comes down to Nick.

Ten years explains the laborious nature of the traps set by Clyde, but it does not explain his beyond the rage and closure one line speech he gives to Nick. How does killing all the government employees related to his case prove a point? Or may be when he decides to kill the whole higher officials in city hall including Viola Davis in a thankless role of Mayor. Beyond the flaws of morality, the screenplay by Kurt Wimmer wants to get complete the fantasy circle in the bad guys getting what they deserve.

Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx play this tango dance which is all wrong. Butler did a ferocious role of blood seeking warrior in “300” but here his dark side is not convincing nor there is a visible battle in his inner demons. What the film does though is bring up the question of whether a brutality makes a sociopath? It does not justify killings though but well we are not talking in depth analysis out here. It is a soft twist into the system and the remaining plot is a planned setup by the scriptwriter. It becomes an exercise than an intelligent entertainer. “Law Abiding Citizen” should have stopped being a narcissistic before it stepped into the film.

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