While one man’s terrorist may be another’s freedom fighter, it’s not quite as simple when it comes to CIA operatives and your basic serial killer. Though John Travolta as a gleefully homicidal secret agent currently into one size fits all assassination mode in From Paris With Love right now, may be tapping into a peculiar new trend. But prior to Travolta’s scary Charlie Wax there was, well, Gerard Butler’s CIA psycho family man, in Law Abiding Citizen.
Butler is Clyde Shelton in the bloody urban thriller, a Philly engineer and free lance gadget inventor whose life is destroyed when home invaders brutally murder his wife and young daughter, and nearly stab him to death. To inflame the furious dad even further, Nick Rice, the city’s ambitious prosecutor on the rise, negotiates a plea deal based on a weak case, with the actual murderer to serve minumum time. And in exchange for testifying against his accomplice, who is subsequently sentenced to death by lethal injection.
And years later, Shelton suddenly turns up to exact massive revenge, not just against everyone he holds responsible for the perceived injustice, including just about everybody on Rice’s staff. But the entire city government as well, as a kind of warped political cleansing of the establishment.
Compounding Shelton’s intricately planned vigilante spree, is that it’s not just a case of depraved wishful thinking. As a high echelon former CIA hitman, he’s got the means and not merely the motivation to pull off random coldblooded executions, that might make Jack The Ripper envious. On the other hand, judging from critical reaction to the movie which was scripted by German screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (Street Kings), US audiences don’t mind how crazy or comically deranged foreign screen terrorists can be, just don’t mess with the CIA.
But political preferences or prejudies aside, F. Gary Gray’s Law Abiding Citizen is a bracing, unnerving cat and mouse, nearly surreal thriller, though veering at times towards the outlandish. And one that just about reinvents the genre in stylishly flamboyant and provocative ways, in a Butler versus Foxx breathlessly chilling, guilty pleasure as charged cinematic showdown.
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Disc One: Theatrical Cut of Law Abiding Citizen; Audio Commentary Featuring Producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel.
Disc Two: Featurettes: The Justice of Law Abiding Citizen; Law In Black And White; Behind The Scenes; Preliminary Arguments: Visual Effects of Law Abiding Citizen; The Verdict: Winning Trailer Mash-Up; Theatrical Trailer.