Law Abiding Citizen (Blu-ray)
There are a lot of interesting questions and discussion topics raised in LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Is it possible to push a victim so far that he becomes the abuser and if so, where is that line? Or maybe; at what degree does the justice system begin to hurt the very citizens that it was designed to protect? These are complex and multi-faceted themes that you might expect Clint Eastwood or Steven Spielberg to tackle in a three-hour epic. Well, F. Gary Gray tried to tackle them in a two-hour action movie and the result is what you expect in that the subject matter felt over the heads of everyone involved with the film.
Gerard Butler is Clyde Shelton, a seemingly normal man that we immediately see fall victim to a random act of violence when two men force their way into his home, rape and kill his wife and daughter, all while Clyde is helpless to do anything about it. We skip to the court date when the prosecuting attorney, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) strikes a plea deal with one of the intruders and avoids trial. Clyde feels that the system has failed him and is angry that the intruder most responsible for the murder of his family is going to walk free in five years.
At that point, we skip ten years in the future and Clyde begins his assault on the Philadelphia justice system. So far, we’ve only witnessed about 15 minutes of screen time, so it’s clear that the goal is to get to the violence and revenge of Clyde. He starts out by going after the intruders and during this time, the audience is on board with him. We didn’t like watching them kill his wife and therefore, watching them suffer a horrible death is disturbingly satisfying to us. But that doesn’t last long because soon Clyde starts going after people that had less and less to do with the murders (a paralegal, a judge, the DA, etc.). That was kind of the point of the film, which was to switch the roles of victims and abusers and let the audience decide where that point occurred.
Unfortunately, what probably should’ve been a deep, thought out film turned out to be a somewhat routine vengeance film. Yes, there was a twist, but the majority of the film was spent watching Clyde kill people and Rice trying to stop him. They also attempted to throw in a subplot with Clyde being some sort of super-spy that specialized on killing people from afar and it lost sight of the story. They already had the major points covered and the effort at furthering the story should have been on getting into the mind of Clyde and Rice and developing them as characters.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that the final product was trimmed out of a much longer, deeper film where all the character and story development were cut out. Gerard Butler has yet to match his performance in 300 and has managed to turn in disappointment after disappointment. Jamie Foxx isn’t much better and he continues to give uninspired performances. Overall, the lack of inspiration was a problem for everyone as LAW ABIDING CITIZEN managed to fall flat and well short of what it could have been.
Video: The 2.39:1 video presentation was nearly flawless, but it wasn’t much to look at. Gray didn’t use many colors and the overall palette was flat.
Audio: The TrueHD soundtrack is efficient, but nothing special. I actually felt it should have been better than what we got as the explosions and action scenes failed to provide that “oomph” that I’m used to.
Commentary with Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel: This was a surprisingly informative commentary, which you usually don’t get from producers. But they offer a ton of insight into the film and discuss some of the more complex themes. They might have an inflated opinion of the film, but it was still a nice commentary track.
The Justice of Law Abiding Citizen (6:15): I was a little surprised by this featurette, only because I thought it was very interesting and original. Basically, they bring in an LA prosecuting attorney and have her discuss the details of the case in the movie and the various options, and possible outcomes, in the film. This was a very cool featurette.
Law in Black and White (15:06): They couldn’t go too long without having a failure and sure enough, they have a 15 minute featurette in black and white. Everyone shows up for a pretty basic behind the scenes featurette (aside from the fact it’s in black and white). They offer a few interesting tidbits, but overall it’s fluff.
Preliminary Arguments: Visual Effects Progressions (7:48): This is actually six separate featurettes that all deal with various special effects shots and how they were filmed. There’s nothing too fascinating here.