DVD Review: Law Abiding Citizen

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The film opens with a very disturbing sequence. Engineer Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is enjoying a quiet evening at home with his wife and daughter when the commonplace domestic scene is interrupted by the sound of someone knocking. Thinking it’s a takeout delivery, Clyde  opens the door to two criminals and is hit over the head with a bat. The next thing he knows, he’s barely conscious, gagged, and bound, and is forced to watch as his wife is raped and killed. Then his young daughter is taken into another room for a similar treatment from Clarence Darby (Christian Stolte). 

The culprits are arrested by the police but the ambitious D.A. Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) makes a deal with the assassin Darby who accuses and gives evidence against his partner. He pleads guilty to a reduced count of third degree murder. Shelton is not happy. Rice agrees that both men are guilty but argues that the case isn’t airtight without the testimony, and if they lose, both men walk free. 

Ten years later, Darby’s partner is executed by lethal injection. Clyde abducts Darby and tortures him before killing him. Clyde is arrested without evidences and Rice seeks his confession. Rice soon realises that Clyde is not only seeking vengeance against the perpetrators but against the justice system that he feels has failed him. Throughout the film invites us to feel sympathy for Clyde even as his actions become more and more immoral. 

F. Gary Gray’s thriller works on an emotional level as the guilty meet gory ends although in the later part of the film credulity is stretched as the plot becomes more fantastical. A  mixture of disturbing violence and  guilty pleasure similar in ways to the old Death Wish films. 

Reviewed by Pat Harrington
SA:R (certificate #45572) | Canada:13+ (Québec) | Canada:14A (British Columbia/Ontario) | Iceland:16 | Canada:18A (Alberta/Manitoba) | UK:18 | Ireland:18 (original rating) | Norway:15 | Finland:K-15 | Philippines:R-13 (MTRCB) | South Africa:16LV | Australia:MA | Brazil:16 | Ireland:16 (re-rating on appeal) | Malaysia:18PL | Hong Kong:IIB | Canada:18A (Ontario) (re-rating) | South Korea:15 | Germany:16 | Netherlands:16 | New Zealand:R18 | Singapore:NC-16 | Argentina:16 | Portugal:M/16 | Taiwan:R-18 | Denmark:15 | Austria:16 | Switzerland:16 (canton of Vaud) | Switzerland:16 (canton of Geneva) | South Korea:18 (DVD rating)

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