Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

A depressingly predictable popcorn thriller, Law Abiding Citizen is guilty of crimes against intelligence on all counts. Reducing serious, thorny issues to the level of macho posturing and daft set-pieces is one of its many problems; the fact that lead Gerard Butler exhibits as much charisma as a spatula doesn't help either.

Butler is Clyde Shelton, a happy family man who is forced to watch the horrific rape and murder of his family in the gratuitous opening minutes. Jamie Foxx (what's happened to your career?) is smarmy lawyer Nick Rice with a 96% conviction rate. Keen to maintain the numbers, Rice opts to deal with one of the criminals, getting him off on a murder charge while the other gets a lethal injection.

Shelton, understandably, is a bit pissed and lo, ten years later, his enemy's public execution goes horribly wrong. Soon, the other culprit is found in four pieces. Is he behind it? Does the audience give a damn? Frankly the jury's out as F. Gary Gray's movie makes an awful hash of the intriguing subject matter.

Hardly a considered director (The Italian Job remake; erm...other things), he's an awful fit for the material, aiming for titillation rather than aggravation. A Saw-esque torture scene is clearly supposed to dredge all sorts of murky undercurrents; instead it reduces Butler to a ridiculous Hannibal Lecter wannabe, something than only increases when appearing to continue his killing spree from behind bars, causing the city and Foxx to go into meltdown.

For all its dramatic low camera angles of imposing courtrooms and weighty legal talk, it's far less intelligent than it thinks, wasting Foxx with a vacuous, as opposed to unlikeable, character and finishing with one of the lamest twists in recent memory. The issue isn't what it leaves you thinking about; it's that you're not thinking at all.

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