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Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

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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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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

How do you stop a killer who is already behind bars? See more »

Genres:

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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 October 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días de ira  »

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$21,039,502 (USA) (16 October 2009)

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Nutter: In the scene where the Mayor (Viola Davis) is swearing in Nick as the new District Attorney, the man holding the bible is the actual mayor of Philadelphia at the time of filming. See more »

Goofs

In the death penalty scene it appears to take place at the Philadelphia prison. However, in the state of PA, all executions take place at Rockview. That prison is located in Central PA, approximately 4 hours to the west of Philadelphia. See more »

Quotes

Detective Dunnigan: Where's the specialist team?
SWAT Troop #1: Round the corner. It's approaching soft.
Detective Dunnigan: Where's the bomb disposal unit?
SWAT Troop #1: You're looking at it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #18.17 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Eminence Front
Written by Pete Townshend
Performed by The Who
Courtesy of Polydor Records Ltd./Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: Law Abiding Citizen
17 January 2010 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

Law Abiding Citizen is one of those thrillers that has a great premise and idea, but bogged down by so many plot loopholes that it becomes an effortless comedy. What was supposedly an excellent run riddled with implausibilities became even more ridiculous in the final 10 minutes that you'd wonder if anyone had any inkling of a logical conclusion, or had decided to cop it all out to avoid being branded as anti-establishment, and as a result, just plain ordinary lacking the guts to just stick with its plan to the end.

Jamie Foxx stars as hotshot (assistant) district attorney Nick Rice, who boasts an extremely high conviction rate, a fact that he repeats many times, and we learn his dirty little secret was to make deals with the guilty - charge them for less, but they still get charged anyway. A conviction is better than no conviction at all should he lose the case. Too bad his latest case was, in my opinion an open and shut one, and he steps on the shoes of the victim, Clyde Sheldon (Gerard Butler), making a deal with the murderers of his family such that one gets sentenced to death while the other gets a short jail term. Not very ethical, but he gets to chalk up his positive statistics.

The perversion of the justice system gets highlighted, since justice is blind and the law can be manipulated with flip-flopping highly paid lawyers and incompetent judges. So Clyde decides to take on the system and teach them all a lesson. Which is a walk in the park because he's a clandestine strategist, but who had misguided faith in the system which explains why he sits around and does nothing, until 10 years later, which is acceptable according to an old Chinese proverb, to exact some form of revenge, making this like a torture porn outing, but without much of the gore on display.

I'd appreciate the film for its take on vigilantism when the system fails you through its corruption and incompetence, and just how much the limit actually is in order to push a man over the edge to declare war on just everybody, and pissing on the system while at it. Turning the system's tools and procedures over its head and onto the same organization may seem like guilty fun, but when the payback gets a wee bit sophisticated each time, you'd start to wonder on the plausibility of it all, even though it was established that Clyde Shelton is a man who can kill you softly while looking directly at you.

The film boils down to which side will you be on, and who would you root for. There's this shade of gray in both men, one willing to make deals with murderers to keep up his personal record, the other taking the law into his own hands, only to not want to stop when the going gets good, but being more ambitious in wanting to take down the whole system. From his prison cell no less. Although Clyde has a valuable lesson to impart to Nick in that what's important is doing the right thing, it did go a tad overboard in order to amplify its idea, especially with sweeping statements like how the entire city got gripped by the apparent acts of terrorism.

Gerard Butlner plays his character crazed since he's a man with absolutely nothing to lose, though it's quite unbelievable that for someone who's well versed in clandestine operations to be ambushed like you see in the trailers, without so much of a counter-strategy in place. But between the two leads Jamie Foxx seemed a little uncomfortable as he can't really portray that degree of arrogance required, and given the emotional distance from his family director F. Gary Gray failed to allow you to feel Nick's fear when his own family got threatened by Clyde.

But the real stinker was the insult to the audience's intelligence in the final moments which tried way too hard to be clever in introducing an impossible twist which has to involve time travel. It's quite the slap in the face telling you that Fate will shine its light on the powers that be, or on any one else bent on seeking justice, but one must know when to stop before going too far and lady luck begins to turn her attention away. Recommended for the build up, but not its unsatisfying, gutless ending.


10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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