Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

February 5, 2010

Revenge best served cold!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:21 pm

February 05, 2010

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler

Director: F Gary Gray

Law Abiding Citizen starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx is a stomach-churning revenge thriller that’s lacking in logic or rationality, but packs enough of those jump-in-your-seat moments for it to qualify as a half-decent watch.

Ten years after witnessing the brutal murder of his wife and daughter, Clyde Shelton (played by Butler) begins a terrifying campaign of revenge against everyone responsible for his tragedy, including public prosecutor Nick Rice (played by Foxx) whom he holds responsible for one of the two killers being let off lightly.

Shelton delivers his own brand of justice to both killers, first making sure the one convicted suffers a slower, longer, more painful death than he was meant to. Then he hunts down the one who got away and slices and dices him into pieces, while videotaping the entire execution. He sends a DVD of this gruesome slaughter to the prosecutor’s home so his little daughter can see it.

Shelton’s promptly arrested and imprisoned, but manages to continue his serial killings from behind bars, smirking all along, never denying his actions, but raising the frightening possibility that someone outside is helping him.

To some extent the film works on a visceral level; it succeeds in shocking you with the manner in which Shelton turns vengeance into a game. You’re just as baffled as the characters in the film are as to how he manages to further his rampage from within the walls of a maximum-security prison, although the big revelation is a complete disappointment.

Law Abiding Citizen also offers itself as a critique of the American judicial system, but that’s really pushing it too far. In the end the film gets tiresome and repetitive because it can’t seem to develop its promising premise beyond a string of grisly mysterious killings.

I’m going with two out of five for Law Abiding Citizen. What could have been a Silence of the Lambs-style chilling thriller, ends up a dumb, blood-splattered B-movie. Watch it if you’re not turned off by gruesome violence!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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