Law Abiding Citizen
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler
Direction: F. Gary Gray
Rating: ** & 1/2
It’s a thankless job. A prosecuting attorney (Foxx) believes he did the right thing by accepting a plea bargain that lets a murderer get off with a lenient sentence. But he hadn’t reckoned with the Law Abiding Citizen (Butler) whose family was slain. Enraged at the failings of the justice system, the victim-turned-vigilante goes on a rampage.
The narrative sets up an outlandish premise: how can one man hold a city to ransom even when he’s incarcerated in a maximum security prison? Terrorising his way across Philadelphia, the sociopath constantly stays one step ahead of the massive police dragnet.
While attempting to balance gruesome sequences with ill-considered notions about crime and punishment, the film does arouse our curiosity. However, it can’t sustain our undivided attention as the goings-on become ever-more-ludicrous leading to a rather tame climax.
The two lead protagonists are well-etched but the peripheral characters like the district attorney (Bruce McGill) and the mayor (Viola Davis) come off as listless. The movie evokes a noir-ish atmosphere thanks to the gritty visual style and an eerie soundtrack.
For the rest of the way, director Gray (Be Cool) appears to be satisfied with hacking out just another thriller.