Thanks to sloppy execution, this well-acted, but poorly laid out film is slightly above the mediocre.
Focusing on an intelligent sociopath named Clyde Shelton played by Gerard Butler (“300,” “Gamer”), who arranges a series of distinctive murders that take hold of the city of Philadelphia, the film is suspenseful from start to finish. It even has a unique twist as Shelton orchestrates the murders from his jail cell. The only man who can end his reign of killing is the prosecutor assigned to his case, Nick Rice, played by Jamie Foxx (“Ray,” “Any Given Sunday”), who Shelton takes for an equally wild ride.
This film starts out with suspense right off the bat, with Shelton spending time with his daughter and making necklaces for his wife. While he hears her calling them for dinner, there is a sudden knock at the door. As Shelton opens it, he is knocked out and awakes incapacitated while he watches his daughter and wife get murdered.
Ten years after the murder of Shelton ’s wife and daughter, he returns to seek justice against Assistant District Attorney Rice, who prosecuted the case against their killers. Shelton is now out for revenge, and he will do just about anything to get it, even if it has to kill the people closest to Rice and put him in danger along with the city of Philadelphia.
These clever strategies from Shelton, as he changes disguises and sets up his wife’s and daughter’s killer will provide plenty of intrigue early on. The scenes involving his brutal killings will have the audience’s jaws dropping as you sense and feel his rage while he lets out all of the pain that has been bottled up inside since his family’s murderer.
Let’s just say that knives can be a brutal weapon of choice.
Director F. Gary Gray (“Be Cool,” “The Italian Job”) tries to entice the audience with different shots, while not showing what goes on behind the scenes as the camera is off of Shelton while in prison, leading to his massive scheme of how he commits these crazy acts of murder in the first place, making the audience think that there is an accomplice involved.
While this is a great device, the film does die down eventually, and interest will certainly be lost as the film reaches its climax. Far-fetched seems to be the phrase that will stick in viewers’ minds as they see how Shelton committed these clever acts of murder. No matter how smart someone is, it is impossible to pull of what Shelton did in the little time he had.
The acting, on the other hand, was a plus. Butler pulled off the sociopath genius who got his way, and showed his emotions on wanting to get revenge on his family’s killer, and on Rice for letting their killer walk. Foxx plays the typical arrogant lawyer/husband who works hard and is hardly ever home, not even having the time to spend with his family. Situations like this have been seen in films before and, to be honest, it gets old.
With that said, “Law Abiding Citizen” will keep you on the edge of your seat for the first half of the film, but the fireworks will die quickly and become duds as the story seems to go flat. If you enjoy a thrill ride and love to root for the bad guy (who is really not, if you think about it), then this film is just your cup of tea. If you think otherwise, waiting for the DVD release might be best.