The main character of "Law Abiding Citizen" with Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx is a sociopath that goes on a rampage, killing major officials in Philadelphia and holding the entire city hostage. The character is essentially elevated out of the ranks of horror films who instead of killing teenagers reacting to hormones or other socio-biological imperatives destroys adults reacting to career dictates. As the title insists, this is a law-abiding citizen who is irate with a justice "system" that allowed one of the killers of his wife and daughter to get off with a light sentence.
Does a social message lurk within the context of rapes, dismemberment, bomb explosions and political assassinations? No, of course not. That's just the cover for filmmakers F. Gary Gray and writer Kurt Wimmer to indulge in calculated genre mischief that mixes horror elements with a suspense thriller.
The script does create sufficient tension and intrigue to hook viewers, along with a photogenic, hard-working cast, so "Citizen," which Overture Films releases Friday (October 16), should stir some mid-October box-office action, Reuters reports.
It was also reported, the film's greatest sin isn't its cynical moral posturing but its complete failure to engage audiences on even a visceral level. Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer ("Sphere") has the characters deliver speeches while setting up Clyde's gruesome revenge fantasies, and then director F. Gary Gray drains every bit of tension from those sequences. This cycle is repeated with events becoming more ludicrous until the movie's nutty, logic-be-damned finale.
As we learn more about Clyde, it becomes apparent that he probably wants revenge not because those closest to him died, but because a couple of low-rent hoodlums got the best of him, wounding his pride. The man is a kissing cousin to Hannibal Lecter, a cool, collected psychopath incapable, you could argue, of human feeling.
Wimmer's paint-by-numbers screenplay leaves this idea utterly unexplored. When career-minded Philadelphia prosecutor Nick Rice (a bored Jamie Foxx) decides to cut a deal with one of the murderers in order to get at least one conviction, Clyde is bewildered. When he sees Rice shaking hands with the greasy, deal-making perp (Christian Stolte) on the courthouse steps, he's outraged. "It's nice when the system works, right?" he tells Rice, his voice seething with sarcasm and contempt, The Los Angeles Times reports.
MTV.com quoted Jamie Foxx as saying, "Law Abiding Citizen" — a film about a wronged man (Butler) who seeks revenge on the district attorney (Foxx) who sets his family's killers free — was a film he was particularly eager to do because he cares so much about the real-life issues it is able to address. "You look at our justice system, and it's never going to be perfect," Foxx insisted. "Which [my character] Nick is trying to explain. It's not going to be perfect, so things are going to slip through the cracks.
"But at the same time, you root for both of them, because they're both right and they're both wrong," Foxx continued. "Here's a guy who loses his wife and his daughter —' how can you tell him that you're only going to give him this amount of justice? You never know where a person's tipping point is, and it was interesting to look at it like that," MTV.com reports.
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