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This Week In Netflix: “Law Abiding Citizen”(2009) June 7, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture, This Week In Netflix.
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A delightful, well-acted, well-plotted movie that’s fun for the whole family!

While I fairly “enjoyed” this movie (and by enjoyed, I mean I didn’t find it wholly objectionable), I did wonder why this movie had such a schizophrenic tone. This movie seemed to have been written by a committee of people each thinking this was a particular genre movie. Hence, what was produced was a movie that was almost science-fiction, almost action-adventure, and almost a psychological thriller. It was almost all of those things, but yet none of those things.

Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is an “engineer” whose wife and daughter are brutally raped and murdered by two criminals. Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is the hotshot lawyer who makes a deal with Clarence Darby, one of the home invaders that results in the execution of the accomplice. It was actually Darby who raped and then murdered the two, but Rice’s argument was that no one would believe Shelton’s eyewitness testimony…

…whaaa? It is at this initial point that the movie begins to flounder. Sure, Shelton had been hit in the head by the thugs, but, as we the viewer see, he had been awake long enough to see his wife stabbed, raped, and then killed. What jury wouldn’t believe his testimony?

Aaaanyway, Darby pretty much gets off, the accomplice gets executed…and dies horribly. It seems that someone has substituted one of the friendlier execution drugs with something more pernicious. In the meantime, Darby is being chased by the cops and receives a phone call from someone “helping” him—-that someone turns out to be Shelton, and Darby is being helped…right into a trap. Shelton quickly kills Darby.

Now, it’s clear at this point that this is a classic “revenge” movie, like those old Charles Bronson movies, and you’d think that once Shelton killed Darby and the accomplice, that the movie would be over.

Fig. 1: Studio Exec 1 to Studio Exec 2: “Hey! People loved those Death Wish movies, right?”

But you’d be wrong! So very, very wrong! You see, Mr. Clyde Shelton has now morphed into a weird combination of Batman, the Punisher, and a whacked-out Jedi/Ninja Assassin. Now, he’s going around killing EVERYONE who had ANYTHING to do with his case. Because Philadelphia is so unbelievably small, he winds up in front of the SAME JUDGE who tried his wife and child’s killers.

Fig. 2: The judge died because her cell phone was rigged to blow her head off when she answered it. Like I said, fun for the whole family!

But wait, there’s more! Not content to kill the killers, not content to blow the brains out of the presiding judge, he (of course) sets his sights on Nick Price and His Lovely Family. You see, in a not-at-all subtle move on the part of the writers, Nick also has a loving wife and daughter! The thing is, they’re never really put in any kind of danger. The worst thing that happens to them is the daughter watching a DVD of Shelton killing Darby—-yeah, that’s pretty fucked up, but since they never present any kind of repercussions of her seeing the DVD, I have to assume that after she had her crying scene, she just wrote it off and went back to being a precocious violinist. Besides, you didn’t rent this DVD to see Unknown Actress and Unknown Child Actor playing second fiddle to Oscar-winning star Jamie Foxx, did you? No, you rented this movie to see this:

And perhaps this:

Can someone tell me why Oscar-winning actors and actresses usually follow their Big Win up with less-than-stellar choices?

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, after Nick and Chief O’Brien from Deep Space Nine do some sleuthing around, they find that Batman has been tunneling out of his solitary confinement cell (so THAT’S why he killed his cell mate with a steak bone!) into his well-equipped lair. Seriously, this dude has more shit than Batman and James Bond combined. He somehow got ahold of a guided rocket launcher. And bombs. Lots and lots of bombs. This dude LOVES bombs. He’d probably fight for a constitutional amendment allowing him to marry his bombs if he wasn’t so preoccupied using them on people who really had fuck-all to do with his wife and kid getting killed. Hey, at least he’s task-oriented!

So the climactic confrontation between Ray Charles and THIS! IS! SPARTA!! is…pretty anticlimactic. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a movie that seems like it was thrown together twenty minutes before a meeting with drunk or coked-up studio executives. Happy endings for everyone! Everyone whose last name is Price, anyway. Everyone else?

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