I saw Law Abiding Citizen Friday night.
This was a fantastic movie.
No, really, I think this may have been one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen. I was actually surprised at several points in the movie, which, frankly, is unusual for me, especially when it comes to action-thrillers. The movie stars Gerard Butler as a father who watches his wife raped and murdered in front of his face and hears his five or six-year-old daughter murdered, while he lies stunned, helpless and potentially bleeding to death. Only, he survives and lives to see the Assistant District Attorney, played by Jamie Foxx, make a deal with the worst of the killers to plead to a lesser charge to testify against his partner, who gets the death penalty. Obviously, Bulter’s character is less than pleased about this deal and he vows revenge.
The movie flashes forward ten years, to the day of the execution. What was supposed to be a painless, humane solution to a violent problem turns into a very violent solution, much to the surprise of the audience of witnesses which include the Assistant District Attorney team who put him there.
Then, while they’re still trying to figure out what happened and why, someone goes after the second killer, the one who made the deal and put the other killer on death row, even though he was, in fact, the more evil of the two men. The vigilante turns out to be Butler’s character, who incapacitates the killer and dismembers him in the most gruesome ways imaginable, videoing the whole thing.
And that’s just the first thirty minutes or so of the movie. Yeah. That was kind of my reaction, too. Damn.
So, here’s the thing, if you can make it through the amazingly brutal, psychologically damaging first half-hour of this movie, the pay-offs are fantastic. Explosions, high-level plotting and scheming, spies, remote-controled weaponized bomb disposal robots, you name it, it’s in this movie.
Butler’s character is a military genius, inventor, and engine of destruction who references Carl von Clausewitz, if you can wrap your head around that. And, he’s in amazing physical condition, too. He fights a war of brutally personal scope, announcing that he will take revenge for what he lost, who he lost, by destroying the system which allowed a deal to be made giving any kind of leniency to the killers of women and children. He claims that he’s fighting “total war, like Clausewitz describes. He’s unrelenting and you find yourself rooting for him, even though, at best, he’s the darkest of dark heroes.
And, of course, I’ll stop giving away the plot now, but trust me when I tell you; see this movie.
If you’re a fan of Gerard Butler or Jamie Foxx, they both play great parts in this movie. Both play complicated, multi-layered characters with deep backgrounds and are finely detailed. The scripting is good for everyone, but they have the best dialog between the two of them.
The cinematography is pretty impressive, too. The close-up shots of a very intense Foxx and equally firey Butler fill the screen and capture your attention in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s very well done and in a style unlike anything I recall seeing before. The rest of the movie is just as visually stunning, each shot highlighting the action in that scene. Brilliantly done.
I won’t tell you how it ends, or even if the ending is happy. It is, I promise, satisfying.
And, I assure you, this is a movie well worth seeing. Go. Now.