MOVIE REVIEW: Law Abiding Citizen (Cert 18)

IT S an oddly boring couple of weeks for movie releases, with releases that are hardly screaming out to be watched. The new Coen Brother s film has been getting mixed feedback and the new Twilight movie is only a pull for that certain demographic who cra

IT'S an oddly boring couple of weeks for movie releases, with releases that are hardly screaming out to be watched.

The new Coen Brother's film has been getting mixed feedback and the new Twilight movie is only a pull for that certain demographic who crave Robert Pattison (and chums) with no shirt on.

So it's with neutral feeling I prepare for a watch of Law Abiding Citizen, with a director whose past has included the dreadful Be Cool and the mediocre remake of The Italian Job five years ago.

Jamie Foxx stars, an actor who seems to flip between really good roles and then cash-in films that require little effort on his part. His Oscar winning performance in Ray was brilliant, as well as some stand-outs in Collateral and above-average war thriller Jarhead. But then there are things like the dreadful Miami Vice that slightly lessen a good portfolio.


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Fellow star Gerard Butler has been in a slew of mediocrity in recent years. Apart from Phantom Of The Opera and, of course, 300 it's been a dire time of romantic comedies (PS. I Love You, The Ugly Truth) and star roles in Tomb Raider and the terrible Reign of Fire.

So is this a typical cash-in effort from Foxx? Does this follow the same trend that Butler has been following? A plot of revenge seems like typical thriller fair, just the ticket for before Christmas, so I go in sceptical.

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Thoughts Afterwards

A fate often befalls a number of films that have great, promising premises; the ending doesn't match the quality of the concept.

Sadly Law Abiding Citizen falls into this camp.

The film begins with an ominously happy family and the inevitable bad tidings this bliss so often brings in Hollywood. With the horrific murder of his wife and child to deal with, it's made particularly hard for poor widow Clyde (Gerard Butler, who's repeatedly called Clive for some reason by numerous characters in the film) after a horrible law-bending court-case that got one of the two to blame for the tragedy to be released after only five years.

The film fast-forwards quickly, and its 10 years later. The lawyer for Clyde's case was the catchily-named Nick Rice (a safe performance by Jamie Foxx), who does law like it's a game - aiming for a 100 per cent win rate, even if it doesn't work for the defendant. As Nick witnesses the death sentence to one of the people involved in Clyde's case, it's with horror he see's the prisoner's lethal injection go horribly and painfully wrong. A day later the second person (the one who got five years) is found dead, chopped up into numerous pieces.

It becomes very clear that Clyde is the culprit behind these, revenge crimes that aimed to give out painful deaths to the criminals who murdered his family. With Clyde locked up and promising a confession, it's surely case closed? Not at all, as people linked to the case continue dying. It's clear he is behind them but... how?

The premise of a series of remote murders from a clearly damaged and hurt individual is promising indeed, and the fact he's a Michael Schofield (from Prison Break) type 'genius' adds to the intrigue.

Promise is one thing, of course, but the film falls completely flat in the last twenty minutes. As in, it's completely ruined.

At first it plays out like an episode of Dexter or a bit like something from the Saw series of movies.

Gerard Butler's performance is definitely the only stand-out in the film and with an ending matching the eerie charisma of Clyde he'd have made a pretty good protagonist for a series. Compared with his typical rom-com showings, he actually bleeds screen presence and I enjoyed every one of his scenes.

It was an odd dynamic too, but one that was annoyingly wasted by the end - the audience was definitely on Clyde, the killers, side! He was battling the constant injustices of law, lawyers, judges and every component of the legal system that brought little justice to the cruel murder of his family.

But as he slowly went too far, uncharacteristically I felt, and started killing the people, all sympathy and support lessened. But I didn't switch sides and begin following the doting Jamie Foxx, I just ended up neutral and disengaged from the action - not caring what happened to anyone any more.

So my advice for anyone wanting to see Law Abiding Citizen - go in, prepare for a solid crime thriller for an hour and a half but I highly recommend leaving around that time, making up your own ending (that will almost definitely surpass the actual one) and hope that there's a semi-decent 'alternative' ending on the DVD that can replace the real one.

TIM LINCE

2/5 STARS

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