Films that focus on a simple plot, such as good versus evil, often times end up the same exact way every time. Evil constantly gets the upper-hand throughout the duration before good somehow jumps through fire and all of damnation in order to foil evil’s diabolical plan. The credits begin to roll and people walk out of the theater with smiles on their faces saying, “Wasn’t that such a good movie? I’m glad that ass got what he deserved.” Yeah, phenomenal. But think about this. What if the bad guy really is a good guy and is simply trying to do what is right and make sure that justice is served? What if the good guy is really a bad guy that is only doing his job and ends up being tormented, but still is not in the right here? Oh that doesn’t matter to the huge masses of sheep that are looking for sunshine and rainbows when a film is over, but the small percentage like me that wants the opposite ending will wait a long time for the one diamond in the rough that sees evil (or truly good?) persevere.
Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) seemingly had the perfect life with his beautiful wife and wonderful daughter living in their fantastic home. That is until the one fateful night when fate unsuspectingly broke into their home in the form of two thugs and Shelton watched as his family was murdered before him. He enlisted the help of a young and promising lawyer named Nick Price (Jamie Foxx) that Shelton hoped would bring about justice for his family. Forced to do only what his job entails, Price ends up giving a light sentence to the actual murderer (that we know about of course as viewers) in exchange for his testimony against the other suspect. Price’s hands are tied and Shelton is forced to sit and watch as his wife and daughter’s murderer gets off virtually without punishment.
Ten years later, Price is now in charge of things and has life going perfectly for him, but that’s all about to change. The true killer in the Shelton family murder trial has now been found brutally murdered and torn limb from limb. It seems as if another mysterious case is in his hands but Clyde Shelton comes forward and admits to the crime. Now in prison, Shelton advises that Price and the justice system were the ones blame for the man’s death, and they’ll be responsible for many more unless things change. Shelton vows to kill everyone associated with his family’s case unless Price amends the justice system and makes things right. The biggest mystery of this entire thing? Shelton is planning on doing it all from the comfort of his prison cell.
It isn’t often that I’m willing to give a film an absolutely perfect score and Law Abiding Citizen won’t get one from me either, but it sure as hell came close to doing so. Gerard Butler plays his role so flawlessly that at times it was hard for me to believe this dude wasn’t real and hadn’t legitimately lost his family. Time and time again he would surprise me with the way he was able to handle business when it appeared as if his hands were tied and all alleyways were blocked. The story of this film is one not to be forgotten and one that could not possibly be improved upon except in one small way and I won’t dive into that so as not to spoil things for any of you.
Jamie Foxx does a great job as well in his role even though I’m not nearly as sold on him as an actor like most of the world is. His smugness just gets to me at times even though that may not be who he really is because it comes through in his character portrayals. Not to mention that it’s hard for me to look at him and not picture Wanda from In Living Color. Difficult to take a guy like that seriously, ya know? Together, Foxx and Butler make a formidable onscreen pairing that play off of one another tremendously even when they aren’t physically side by side. Law Abiding Citizen brings out the best in both men and it does so with hard-hitting action mixed in with a great story that will keep you on the edge of your seats.
Law Abiding Citizen is shown in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks beautiful to me. There are no compression issues and all colors are bright when needed, but that is very few moments. It’s a rather dull and drab looking film to keep with the somber mood, but it works well.
The film is heard in a TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound that is fantastic. All dialogue can be heard loud enough and clearly at all times so you won’t have to worry about adjusting the volume to hear it. That holds true also for the great musical score which sets a nice tone of the film and some awesome sound effects (explosions galore) that come through just right.
Director’s Cut – The director’s cut version on the Blu-ray is only about ten minutes longer and doesn’t alter the story or further it in any way really. A few differences I could spot were that a little more character background is given here and there, but not much else. Maybe a few more gratuitous bits of violence thrown into the scenes that were already quite blood-curdling as well.
The Justice Of Law Abiding Citizen – Two real-life lawyers sit down to discuss the reality of the film and if it is something that could honestly go on in everyday life. Interesting, but still rather boring. (6:15)
Law In Black And White – A basic behind-the-scenes featurette that shows some footage from the shoot while interviews with the cast and crew are thrown in as well. (15:05)
Preliminary Arguments – Producer Lucas Foster gives commentary here and discusses how the bigger effects of the film were done. Another segment that just kind of drags on. (6:46)
The Verdict – A mash-up trailer for the film.
Audio Commentary – Producers Foster and Alan Siegel sit down together for the commentary track which is available only for the theatrical cut of the film. Not much to say about this as the two really just talk about how happy they are with the finished product and how much fun it was to work with Butler, Foxx, and the rest of the cast. No real background or storyline information is given as one would hope from commentary tracks.
Law Abiding Citizen is one of the few films that comes along and actually makes me happy to be sitting down to watch it so I feel as if everyone should get the same enjoyment out of it. The disc doesn’t provide much else as the special features aren’t all that much, but will still provide a little bit of extra information and entertainment. Your reasoning for picking this one up though is the story itself and Gerard Butler’s performance for he is what makes it all worthwhile.
Overture Films presents Law Abiding Citizen. Directed by: F. Gary Gray. Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx. Written by: Kurt Wimmer. Running time: 108 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: February 16, 2009. Available at Amazon.com