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Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 180,092 users   Metascore: 34/100
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A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Emerald-Angel Young ...
Denise Rice (as Emerald Angel Young)
Rupert Ames (as Joshua Stewart)


Clyde Shelton's family is brutally murdered. The ones responsible are caught. However, because of improper procedure, the D.A., Nick Rice only has circumstantial evidence. So he decides to get one of them to testify against the other. When Shelton learns of this, he is not happy. Ten years later, the one who was convicted is being executed but something goes wrong; his execution goes awry and he suffers. They learn that someone tampered with the machine. And the other one is found dead, killed in a gruesome manner. Rice suspects Shelton, so he has him picked up. At first, Shelton agrees to a plea agreement with Rice but changes his mind. It appears that Shelton is not done, it appears he blames the whole system and is declaring war on it going after everyone involved with his family's case. So Rice has to stop him but Shelton is way ahead of him. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The System Must Pay See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 October 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días de ira  »

Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,488,143 (UK) (27 November 2009)


$73,343,413 (USA) (29 January 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director F. Gary Gray decided to use Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse as the restaurant that caters Clyde's lunch after dining there several times during filming. The restaurant was also the location of the film's after-party following its screening at the Philadelphia Film Festival. See more »


Assuming the movie takes place in 2009, the seventh generation Honda Accord (introduced in 2003) seen behind Clyde as Clyde watches Nick shaking Darby's hand during the press conference in 1999 would not have existed. See more »


[from trailer]
Clyde Shelton: You're the one who makes deals with murderers yeah? Well I've come to make mine. Release me.
Nick Rice: [smugly] Or what?
Clyde Shelton: Or I kill everyone.
See more »


Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Gamer (2011) See more »


Eminence Front
Written by Pete Townshend
Performed by The Who
Courtesy of Polydor Records Ltd./Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Awful, misguided nonsense.
14 November 2010 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

That's it. I'm done.

Hollywood can't even make mindless action without screwing it up with unnecessary plot devices and twists and misguided moralising.

Why can't I as a simple everyday punter expect a decent B movie with a few good kills and maybe some dumb jokes? Nooooooo, not in this day and age of Lakeview Terrace, The Brave One, Death Sentence and Law Abiding Citizen.

The opening scene apparently justifies the final 90 unnecessary minutes. Gerard Butler plays Clyde, the victim of a home invasion that goes wrong. He and his wife are beaten and stabbed and his young daughter is killed. He alone survives.

(Rethinking the events of the home invasion: two guys wearing masks knock on Clyde's front door and immediately hit him with a bat, (the cats-eye would have saved him), one of the thugs continues beating him, the other takes a few trinkets from the shelf and then says "Let's go". Seriously, you plan a home invasion, get the masks and bat, steel yourself and bail out after a few knick-knacks? In short you risk 20 years for a murder rap for a maximum couple grand, where is the logic there?) Just wait folks, if you think that wound me up for no reason it only gets worse.

Clyde is now recovered and meeting with his lawyer Nick, played by Jamie Foxx. Nick is a young hotshot who cares more about his conviction strike rate than justice, and as he has concerns that the two defendants might slip on a technicality and ruin his %, he cuts a deal with one to rat on the other.

Now of course the real bad guy is the one who squeals, and he is smarmy and smug about the way things turn out. Clyde is not happy with this unexpected twist, and I know what you're thinking, but this isn't Death Sentence or Death Wish 2, it blazes its own trail. Unfortunately though, you couldn't find a more ludicrous and infuriating trail than the one they choose here.

My moral? Sometimes doing the same thing over isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you do it in an entertaining manner.

Cut to 10 years later >>>>>>>> From here on in LAC takes the blackest of black turns, and in doing so loses every shred of credibility.

Nick and his wife are 10 years older - and I tell ya they don't look like they have aged a day! They now have a 10 year old daughter of their own.

The squealing bad guy, now out of jail, is murdered in a brutal manner by a cold and calculated killer. Nick is set on the case and immediately suspects that Clyde must have something to do with it, which makes sense given earlier events.

They take Clyde into custody and a pointless game of cat and mouse begins. In the initial interrogation Clyde out-lawyers the lawyer, in a way that even the dopiest person watching must have seen coming, but not hot-shot Nicky.

Clyde promises to tell all as long as his simple demands are met, and things get more and more wacky and frustrating from here til the credits roll downwards.

Clyde remains in prison however the bodycount rises at a frantic rate, as everyone associated with the case is systematically picked off in a methodical and astonishingly convoluted manner.

Nick and his buddies suspect that Clyde must have someone on the outside, and his methods and background slowly become more clear. In one of movie-making's stupidest techniques, Nick must be in attendance at every discovery so he can grow more frustrated and involved, doesn't anyone have a phone so that they might call the local cops to check on something rather than take a helicopter across the city? The last 30 minutes is an exercise in p*sstaking once the full scope of the situation is revealed, I could see it coming and still wanted no part in it when it arrived.

Law Abiding Citizen is grandiose and overblown, a twisted revenge fantasy gone awry with some awkward posturing and moralising thrown in for good measure. I like a little violence in my movies - even pointless violence - but trying to justify it with a plot that has more holes than Ricky Ponting's Advance Hair weave just sh*ts me.

Law Abiding Citizen wants to be seen as Se7en crossed with Saw, but to me at least it is nothing more than unnecessary crossed with sh*t.

Final Rating – 5 / 10. A B-movie that loses a grade through an inane plot and an inexcusably bizarre message.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Clyde's actions bv-j
Why the ending was disappointing mauness
Couldve been a great movie if... ovallejr09
Did I miss the reason for the murder of Shelton's family? fruity_dina
Not even remotely possible....ptp wanderin
Perfect Ending maxphillyfan
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