Law Abiding Citizen

Many of you won't see any reason to bitch about a savage revenge drama that keeps the bodies piling up. As a DVD rental to watch while scarfing pizza and beer, there's not much to complain about either. But Law Abiding Citizen is out there charging top dollar at the multiplex. And for what? An exercise in illogic and Death Wish cribbing that lets a bunch of good actors collect big paychecks for playing way less than their A game.

Slumming Oscar winner Jamie Foxx grabs top billing as Nick Rice, a Philly DA on the make who lets off a sniveling rapist psychopath for turning state's evidence and advancing Nick's career. This puts a major bug up the ass of Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler, minus his 300 sandals), a brainy scientist whose wife and daughter were tortured and murdered by said psychopath. Clyde spends the next 10 years planning an elaborate payback, the grosser the better, against Nick and the entire justice system.

All the carnage lights a fire of rage under the mayor (Doubt Oscar nominee Viola Davis, who deserves so much better). But our Clyde is not to be trifled with. Even when this bad boy is captured and jailed, his diabolical schemes continue unabated. I'll never tell how because if I did you'd say it's bullshit, which it most assuredly is. Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job) keeps splashing the screen with gore so the out-for-blood crowd will lap it up. But, jeez, did the "surprise" climax have to be this feye-rollingly stupid?

From The Archives Issue 135: May 24, 1973