The American justice system is broken. Innocent people, jailed twenty to thirty years ago, are now being freed based on forensic evidence re-assessed using modern techniques. People are being imprisoned for petty indiscretions like queue jumping and littering whilst violent criminals are allowed to go free due to technicalities, or a lack of ‘the right kind of evidence’. There are more and more cases of violence among youths, with the authorities powerless to doing anything about it.
The judges are inept, the lawyers corrupt. The legal system is in dire need of a complete overhaul. An extreme view, to be sure, but one that many law abiding citizens share across the states.
Gerard Butler is Clyde Shelton. A mild mannered family man, his world is turned upside down when he is attacked, and his wife and daughter murdered during a random home invasion. Shelton is devastated. The perpetrators are caught, but when the court case comes around the district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) doesn’t want to take it to trial. Considering Shelton’s testimony to be useless, due to his blacking out during the attack, Rice doesn’t want to lose the case and risk the blot on his outstanding prosecution record. Instead, he makes a plea bargain with one of the defendants, who gives up his partner in return for immunity. Shelton is devastated that justice has not been served, whilst Foxx considers it a job well done.
Ten years later, the convicted attacker is due for execution via lethal injection. Someone however intervenes, and ensures the execution is as painful as possible. Then the defendant who was given immunity is found dead, having been tortured. Shelton is arrested, and goes willingly(and naked …. very, very naked). He wants to make some deals of his own with the DA, and with ten years planning behind him aims to make the stakes as high as possible. Despite being safely under lock and key, Shelton begins to wreak revenge on the justice system, and the legal wranglers he holds responsible for the injustice he suffered all those years ago.
There’s a deep message at the heart of Law Abiding Citizen, about how today’s legal system is flawed, that the people with the legal power in America don’t necessarily put the interests of the victims above their own, and asks how criminals known to be guilty are allowed freedom to re-offend over and over again. There’s one scene, set in the courtroom, where Gerard Butler’s character uses the flawed bail system to successfully demonstrate how stupid the legal system really is.
The plot maybe a bit silly, if not downright ludicrous. Character motivations are sketchy, with some completely nonsensical methods employed by both Shelton and the DA to reach their goals. But its entertaining throughout as you wonder just what Clyde will dish out next in his “biblical” path of destruction.
Some of the shock violent moments are entertaining in their over the top, cartoonish way, and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. By the end an honest, decent man suffers from Heisenberg syndrome of losing sight in his bid for revenge.
Watch Law Abiding Citizen by all means, Just remember to suspend any sense of disbelief any sense of logic before you do so.
So out of a possible five stars Law Abiding Citizen earns:
Is silly, exploding and violent with a loose plot – so the standard Gerard Butler film …. and an entertaining one at that!
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