Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Mainstream Hollywood revenge fare with an exploitation flick soul, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009) is a diverting enough entertainment that demands a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief from its audience - and how well the viewer manages to suspend said disbelief will determine how much they enjoy it.

During a home invasion, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler, 300) is forced to watch his family brutally murdered. When the justice system - represented by up-and-coming Philadelphia prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) - ends up making a plea bargain with one of the killers in exchange for his testimony against the other, the distraught Shelton feels betrayed. Ten years later, Rice is now Assistant D.A., and Shelton reappears, murdering not only the men responsible for his family's deaths, but threatening Rice and everyone else involved in the deal. Even after arrested and imprisoned, he still manages to kill - and it's up to Rice to find out how before his own turn comes up.

Interestingly, as the characters are presented, it's really difficult not to side with Butler's Shelton. The system -and, specifically, Foxx's Rice - did screw him. Justice was not served. And even when Butler's character is at his most coldly sadistic, torturing and threatening violence against even those most peripherally involved in his betrayal, it's hard not to sympathize with him, especially considering the awful way his family was killed.

Well-acted, slickly-directed and fairly well thought-out, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is a decent enough evening's rental, with enough action and suspense to keep your attention throughout. Your ultimate enjoyment pretty much depends on your ability to swallow the film's final revelations. My wife and I were able to just roll with it, and found it satisfying enough, but I know that a lot of other viewers were disappointed in the climax. This is definitely one of those "your mileage may vary" situations.

Anchor Bay's 2-disc Blu-Ray edition is pretty sweet, regardless of the movie's relative merits. Disc one contains the unrated Director's Cut of the feature (which is exclusive to this Blu-Ray set), with a flawless 1080p resolution, 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, and six supplemental featurettes covering various aspects of the production. This disc also includes the original theatrical trailer.

Disc two contains the original theatrical presentation, also with a ultra sharp 1080, 2.40:1 widescreen transfer. This version of the film is accompanied by an audio commentary from producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel.

As I said above, if you like slick studio thrillers, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one. Or you'll hate the ending. No way to know until you try, though, so I suggest giving it a rent. If you caught it in the theater, though, and already know you like it, the Blu-Ray presentation from Anchor Bay is unbeatable.

BUY: Law Abiding Citizen [Blu-ray]