When you sit down and really think about it, society-wide vigilantismis probably the way to go.
If you've been wronged, what are the chances a bunch of nutty old lawsdreamed up a jillion years ago by gin-swilling Englishmen in wigs andpantyhose are going to be relevant to your modern problems? Think theyever heard of today's high-tech cybercrimes, like cyber-robbery andcyber-murder? Not bloody likely. Maybe if your neighbor nicked your oxor put a hex on you, then courtroom justice could help. Anything else,you're screwed.
Plus, think of all the tax dollars we'll save! Two bullets and anunmarked grave are gonna run us a whole lot less than years of appealsleading up to an expensively humane execution. Convinced yet? Damn.Then you're not likely to be convinced by Law Abiding Citizen,either, a thriller that argues long and dumb about the flaws in theAmerican legal system, then forgets all that to bring us explosions.
Up-and-coming Philadelphia prosecutor Jamie Foxx isn't certain he canconvict the two men who killed Gerard Butler's family. Taking the saferoute, he accepts a plea that will let one of the killers out in threeyears, devastating Butler and destroying his faith in the justicesystem.
Ten years later, he's ready to exact his own justice. After bothkillers wind up brutally murdered, Butler confesses and gets put away.But his work has just begun: from behind bars, Butler starts killingmembers of the Philly justice system, determined to bring the wholething down.
Director F. Gary Gray's take on Butler's Old Testament-style throwdownis certainly slick enough, with lots of those spinny shots of rooftopsand the grayed-out film that's as much a signature of the '00s as pinkcredits were to the '80s.
It all feels pretty paint-by-numbers, really: Foxx works too hard andmight care more about his conviction rate than getting justice, but weknow he's really a good guy because he has a wife and a kid, and noone who's ever had children has done wrong. And Butler's manic killingspree might look crazy, but have you ever considered it mightbe the so-called "justice" system that's crazy? With all its laws and"civil rights"? Why the hell do we need evidence and due process whenwe know the guy did it?
Where the courts fail, sometimes napalm bombs must make up the slack.That's as deep as writer Kurt Wimmer's arguments go, which makes it areal bringdown that Foxx and Butler spend about five semestersdebating jurisprudential nonsense with about as much substance as meblowing my nose on the title page of Criminal Law for Dummies.
Give it five points, however, for the explanation behind Butler'splan. Somewhere between imaginative and ridiculous, it's a welcomesign of life in an otherwise flat and cliched thriller. Oh, andanother five points for the judge's snap-action death. Now that wassweet.
Deduct 2,000 points for all the details that remain unaddressedor glossed over, such as why Butler's family was killed in the firstplace.
But Law Abiding Citizen isn't really interested inmaking sense or resolving plot issues. It's more into violent deaths,righteous stupidity and a whole bunch of stuff you've seen a hundredtimes before.