After ordinary guy Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) watches his wife and young daughter die at the hands of two violent burglars in his own home, he relies on hotshot Philadelphia district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Fox) to see that justice is done and they are sent to prison for life for their heinous crime. But when Nick Makes a deal that sees one of the killers walk three, Clyde is unhappy to say the least. Fast forward 10 years and, following a stint in the military, Clyde is back on the scene to exact his own form of extreme vigilante justice. And when prison isn’t enough to stop him, Nick embarks on a race against time to save his own family.
The idea of an everyday guy forced to take justice into their own hands is nothing new in cinema, and it has been done much better than this. That’s not to say that there is some guilty pleasures to be found here; Clyde’s methods of dispatching those he believes to be complicit in the miscarriage of justice are inventive in the extreme – that they are entirely ludicrous is of no concern to screenwriter Kurt Wimmer. This is a rip-roaring crime thriller; realism and logic are cast aside in favour of grandiose set pieces and non-stop action. But it’s also devoid of much narrative meat, and ends up a series of outlandish kill sequences without much to hold them together. And to say that the film’s moral compass is wildly askew is an understatement; although the motive of the movie may be to make us question the lengths to which a law abiding citizen could be expected to go in order to see justice is done, by turning Clyde from an everyman into a cold, calculating and entirely unsympathetic murderer the point becomes lost in the fray.
As a piece of fluffy entertainment, Law Abiding Citizen is passable enough; try to dig any deeper, however, and you’d be scraping the bottom of a very shallow barrel. 2 stars
The Blu-ray contains the director’s cut of the film, featuring around 15 minutes of additional footage, while the DVD has just the theatrical cut. Both formats include behind the scenes footage, featurette and a look at the visual effects. 2 stars
Stars Jamie Fox, Gerard Butler
Director F Gary Gray
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Distributor Momentum Pictures
Released April 12