Law Abiding Citizen
- Rob Carnevale
- 13 November 2009
A highly dubious morality undermines anything worthwhile in Be Cool and The Italian Job director F Gary Gray’s violent thriller about the nature of justice.
When ambitious assistant District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) grants a rapist-murderer a deal, grieving father and husband Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) vows revenge and, 10 years later, wages a one-man war against Rice and the justice system he represents.
The tale that ensues attempts to juggle crowd-pleasing retribution with cheap pot shots and is by virtue awash with confused sympathies, which seem to side with Shelton’s extreme crusader one minute and Rice’s reluctantly apologetic lawyer the next.
Butler and Foxx provide worthy adversaries and the interplay between them contributes to the film’s best moments. But the violence that intersperses their battle of wits is deeply unpleasant, especially in the way that it invites viewers to revel in the audacity of its clever design.
A disappointing last act reveal, meanwhile, panders more to Hollywood convention and displays a lack of conviction.
General release from Fri 27 Nov.