Originally, I was going to review Drop Dead Fred, and while that’s still on the chopping block, I just had to tackle this as soon as I could. Let me level with you–I LOATHE this movie. Like, I could probably do a video on everything wrong with it and the video would end up being about 30 minutes long or longer. The movie in question is…Law Abiding Citizen.
It’s a movie with an interesting premise, which we’ll get into later, but its execution is downright insulting. As such, I won’t be using the structure that I used for my Equestria Girls review because frankly, it doesn’t deserve that. Today, justice will be served as I shred this film to bits. This is Law Abiding Citizen.
So what’s the premise that had so much potential? Well, when a man’s family is murdered and isn’t given a fair sentence, he attempts to avenge his family and prove that the justice system is corrupt. And how does this guy (Gerard Butler) go about this? By going after the killer…and then trying to killÂ the district attorney (Jamie Foxx). This brings up a huge issue–The film is trying to paint Butler as a vigilante but forgets to give us a reason to sympathize with him. With most vigilantes, we’ll see them go after only criminals. And since they work outside the law, they’ll go to extreme lengths to stop them, which includes murder. However, Butler goes after the entire justice system in Philadelphia because one guy didn’t get what he supposedly deserved–in this guy’s case, the death penalty. Of course, he could just everything play out. After all, who’s to say that he won’t be on Death Row later? Heck, just try to work with Jamie and gather evidence. But that would be the sensible thing to do. Instead, he goes through the trouble, of kidnapping a police officer, impersonating said cop, catching the murderer, poisoning and paralyzing him, take him to a warehouse, and mutilate him, all the while filming everything and sending the snuff film to the DA’s family.
This brings up another major issue. Butler’s trying to avenge his family because he’s the “good guy”, but they were killed in the first three to five minutes of the movie. No character development, no names, nothing! They’re nothing more than a plot device. Meanwhile, Jamie, the “bad guy” and his family does go through development. We find out a lot about this family, and we know he cares for them. Thus, I find myself rooting for Foxx.
And while we’re on the subject, at one point, Butler is asked what his family would say if they knew what he was doing. And how does our oh so lovable protagonist respond?
“My wife and daughter can’t feel anything. They’re dead.”
You mean to tell me that you’re willing to do all of this regardless of what your family would think? This isn’t about avenging your family anymore. You’re doing this because you’re a whiny, spoiled-rotten brat who didn’t get his way. I feel absolutely ZERO sympathy for you. They’re so gung-ho about forcing us to feel for this jerk by later revealing that he was a spy in the military, which, by the way, is told to us by a character who comes from heaven knows where, spouts out this exposition, and disappears. That’s not character development; that’s just manipulation.
And the other characters are no different. Most of them are brain-dead. Take the judge, for example. Butler’s on trial, and he gets his own unfair case–which he actually wins. And then he admits that his case was a lie. He lied in court. So does she give him a separate trial or give him solitary confinement–you know, actual intelligent decisions? Nope, just hold him in contempt. Idiot, he’s a felon and he has no remorse for it. Flipping DO SOMETHING!
And the ending. Sweet merciful crap, the ending. I have good news and bad news. The good news: Butler ends up dying. The bad news: More manipulation! This time, he looks at a bracelet made by his daughter before burning to a crisp. As if he’s saying, “I failed you.” First off, you failed them when you started going after innocents, douchebag! Second, I have to say…The Incredibles did this sort of thing better. Say what you will about Mr. Incredible. Yes, he did some things that good fathers shouldn’t do. He lied to his family, destroyed public property, put his life in jeopardy, and created his own mortal enemy through sheer arrogance. But at least he admitted that he was wrong. He tried to change in the end. And he did everything he could to make things right with his family. That right there is character development. Butler dies without ever considering his immorality. He never wavers; he thinks he’s right. He doesn’t develop, and that’s why I hate this character and this movie.
Final Thoughts–I would do the whole “getting angry only to say ‘I didn’t like it’ nonchalantly” gag, but again, this movie doesn’t deserve it. I hate this movie. I hate most of the characters. I hate the writing. I hate its twisted definition of justice. I hate everything this movie stands for! RememberÂ that event comic Linkara reviewed a few years ago, “JLA: Cry for Justice”? Well, that comic is laughing at this film. If you want to make a vigilante story, go for it. But at least make an attempt to give your vigilante morals. And for pity’s sake, if you’re gonna like this film, give a valid argument instead of “I’m right and Rotten Tomatoes is wrong”! I would burn my copy of this movie, but there’s a store here in town that buys used movies. So when I turn this movie in, at least I’ll get some cash for my pain and suffering. And that, my friends, is justice.