Another Gerard Butler movie? How many is that this year? Three? Does it sound like I’m complaining? I’m not, because this is the best one of the lot!
In The Ugly Truth, Gerard made us laugh. Love it when he makes us laugh. In Gamer, he made us root for the good guy. Gerard always plays the hero so well.
What does he do in Law Abiding Citizen? Gerard makes us laugh (in a creepy sort of way), he makes us root for a killer (to a point) and he makes us think, “Is he right or is he wrong?” He makes you wonder who the bad guy really is in this film.
Law Abiding Citizen, the first film from Evil Twins, Gerard’s production company with long-time manager Alan Siegel, is a hell of a film for a first project. The cast includes Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, Academy Award nominee Viola Davis and film veterans Bruce McGill and Colm Meaney. Director F. Gary Gray and the city of Philadelphia add the nuances and surprises that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the film. I can’t tell you the number of times I was telling the characters to watch their backs.
The story centers on Clyde Shelton (Butler), a family man, who suffers the loss of his wife and child at the hands of a brutal murderer during a home invasion. Prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx) makes a deal with one of the invaders for testimony against the other. This doesn’t sit well with Clyde. The grieving husband and father doesn’t understand how one would be sent to death and the other could be free in less than 5 years. His outrage is pushed to the edge when he sees the dealer shaking hands with the deal maker in front of the courthouse.
Flash forward 10 years. The two murderers meet their maker in horrible ways and it’s soon clear Clyde is responsible. Nick gets his man and puts him jail, but the killings don’t stop. One death will take you so totally by surprise to the point where you laugh in open-mouthed shock at its creativity.
This is a bona fide edge-of-your-seat, popcorn-munching thriller.
Jamie Foxx portrays Nick as the typical district attorney racing to get to the top. Clyde’s killing spree forces him to face the truth about himself and the career path he’s chosen. It forces him to face loss, fear for his own family and the moral issues of making deals with killers.
Gerard Butler is the star here though. His chameleon-like acting ability to be a grieving father/husband one moment and a brutal killer the next shine in Law Abiding Citizen. He has you rooting for him until your own sense of right and wrong forces you to say to yourself “enough already” and stand on Nick’s side after the city of Philadelphia itself is held hostage. It doesn’t lessen your compassion for Clyde though. For Butler’s role as a “bad guy”, he couldn’t have picked a more complex character to sink his teeth into. He takes his clothes off too, which, let’s be honest, is a plus any day of the week for Butler fans. Yet, it’s his stellar acting that stands out here. It’s his best work since The Jury.
A testament to a well crafted script and a tightly edited movie that doesn’t let up from the beginning, it’s not until the end that you wonder if Clyde really won this fight and you start to question your own thoughts about the American legal system and the issue of plea bargains.
It’s not until the end that you think, “What the hell did I just see?” It\’s all good though. You know you can just go see it again! And I will! 😀