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Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen (DVD)
Member Name: goldenbat666
Law Abiding Citizen (DVD)
Advantages: Non-stop action that never slows down
Disadvantages: Some tacky writing as well as the increasingly unconvincing ideas towards the end
Revenge films are fun to watch. We cheer when the good guy finally achieves justice, and we secretly cheer more when there's plenty of violence towards the bad guys who had it coming all along. Let's be honest, who didn't cheer when the Bride yanked out Elle's remaining eye in "Kill Bill volume 2"? Or when Johnny Depp slowly pressed his blade down into Alan Rickman's throat in "Sweeney Todd"?
"Law Abiding Citizen" seems to have all the qualities for making a satisfactory revenge thriller. A wrongly treated protagonist - check, violence - check, add in some preposterous yet slick-looking techno babble and throw in some cheesy yet epic lines such as "It's gonna be biblical," you should get an outrageously entertaining revenge flick, right? Sadly, not quite.
Having said that, it's worth noting that the first half is not bad at all. The action starts off straight away, with not even five minutes into the film, we see Clyde's (Gerard Butler) family (his wife and child) brutally attacked and murdered. The men responsible are apprehended, but one of them makes a cunning deal with the prosecutor Nick (Jamie Foxx) and manages to walk free. Clyde is of course, devastated, appalled and ultimately furious at the corrupt nature of the justice system. Ten years later, Clyde is back and armed with a series of terrors he's about to unleash to the good people of Philadelphia, he seeks revenge. It's one man against the entire city, but it seems he's smart enough to win, which is great for the audience. And we can tell from the moment he commits his first act of vengeance that this guy is not kidding around. He's planned everything to absolute perfection and he won't let anyone or anything get in his way. It's a relief to see Clyde gaining some sense of justice after years and years of hard work. So we cheer him on, this amazingly clever and brilliant Clyde, taking out his targets with fancy gadgets that even James Bond would be lucky to have.
The main problem arises when the director doesn't seem to know when to stop with all the explosions and unnecessary amount of violence. There are so many preposterous events that as the film goes on, they get tiresome, repetitive and slightly dull. For example, Clyde is arrested and placed in prison, and yet the attacks keep on coming. Nice concept, but may we ask, "how"? The film struggles with this and provides a vague, rushed explanation towards the end that still does not tie up all the loose ends. The methods used to eliminate his targets also get more and more ridiculous with absolutely no explanation as to how he managed to set everything up.
Clyde is seen as a victim that we can feel sorry for. But this only applies during the first half of the film as his vulnerable image is quickly erased when he makes the transition from being the devastated father who lost everything into a raging, blood-thirsty maniac in the second half. His philosophy for trying to justify his horrific acts of terror is perverse, flawed and possibly even more twisted than the justice system that he's so determined to bring down. Slowly but surely, he loses any sort of sympathy the audience had for him.
The lead performances are adequate at best, but they don't noticeably damage the film's quality as a whole. The stand-out performance comes from an unexpected source: Viola Davis as the city's mayor. Yes, she's only in the film for probably less than fifteen minutes altogether, but with her spirit and energy, she dominates her scenes.
"Law Abiding Citizen," at first glance can be seen to be an engaging and thrilling revenge film. It's a shame those thrills wear off after only an hour or so. The never-ending absurdity of the plot and lazy characterisation don't put a satisfactory end to something that started off promising so much.
Summary: The first half is a gripping and entertaining but it's hard to sympathise with the protagonist