Vicious thugs break into Clyde Shelton’s home and rape and kill his wife and child.
In the real world, Shelton — who is merely stabbed a couple of times and not killed — would be a suspect. That might have made a more interesting premise.
When the two men are nabbed, district attorney Nick Rice is more concerned with his conviction ratio than justice. So he cuts a deal. The leader of the two does 10 years in the slammer in exchange for testimony against his co-conspirator, who gets the death penalty. He didn’t want to kill anybody.
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Naturally, no-justice gets the patient and righteously angry Shelton planning. Ten years later, he kills the two killers and begins a life-and-death, cat- and-mouse game with Rice. It ]turns out that Shelton is a trained killing machine.
Revenge has never been so bland. Much of the fault for the failure of Law Abiding Citizen lands at the feet of its two equally monochrome stars Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. Given characters with some energy, both actors are passable. I know, Foxx has an Oscar and was brilliant as Ray Charles, but one character doesn’t make a career. What has he done since?
Like Foxx, Butler has his moments, but most of what he does could be done better by other actors.
To give them credit, the plot is seriously flawed, and that isn’t their fault. Once the set-up is in place, the story has nowhere to go that you haven't already been dozens of times.
Director F. Gary Gray — best known for the comedy Friday — and writer Kurt Wimmer (the forgettable The Recruit) need to see more chop-and-slash flicks such as the new horror chain, Saw or some of the oldie but goodies akin to Halloween, Nightmare on Elmstreet and Friday the 13th. Their creators know a lot about creative kills.
Nothing Shelton does to Rice and his cohorts is remotely interesting. What Gray and Wimmer are able to do is come up with an excellent twist ending.
It’s too bad the ending didn’t come an hour earlier.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated R for violence, gore and language. It opens Friday, Oct. 16 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.