Right Meets Wrong

Law Abiding Citizen 3 out of 4 stars

Law Abidinig Citizen, the much-anticipated new release from director F. Gary Gray which stars Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, takes the typical “revenge flick” to whole new heights. Law Abiding Citizen questions the flaws within the justice system, while hacking away at the barrier between right and wrong.

Clyde Shelton, played by Butler, is the victim of a heinous crime, which inspires his plot for retribution. On a seemingly ordinary evening, Shelton is at home with his daughter and wife, when intruders appear on his doorstep. They burst in, slaughter and rape his wife and then murder his little girl. This all takes place as he lays there helplessly and on the cusp of death, forced to watch all that he loves being ripped away.

Nick Rice (Foxx) is the young, ambitious assistant district attorney in Philadelphia who takes up Shelton’s case against the two brutal murderers. However, due to inconclusive evidence there is a chance that both murders could walk free if the case goes to trial.

Concerned with his 95 percent conviction rate and the prospect of a promotion, Rice makes a deal with one of the men to testify against his accomplice in exchange for a less severe sentence. This man was the intruder actually responsible for the torture and death of the two victims. Shelton pleads with Rice to pursue the case and seek justice, but Rice explains that the deal is already done.

Ten years later, Shelton returns to seek his own justice and receive retribution for the deaths of his wife and child. His clever tricks and mind games constantly reveal just how corrupt the court system can be. At first, the audience is sympathetic to Shelton’s plight, as he exacts revenge upon the monstrosity that destroyed his family. His violent actions, while at first justifiable, ultimately lead to a fade in sympathy from the audience and a debate over the justice or injustice of his revenge.

One of the strongest aspects of the film is that there are no heroes. Both of the main characters, Shelton and Rice, have alterior motives to their actions and often make immoral decisions in pursuit of what they want. This allows the audience to flip back and forth in support of the characters, making for a much more interesting dynamic as a whole.

The supporting cast includes Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill, Christian Stolte, Regina Hall and Emerald Angel Young. The actors added life and energy to their characters and the plot. Most noteworthy is Viola Davis’ invigorating performance as Philadelphia’s mayor. The strong acting from the entire cast was a highlight of the film.

Law Abiding Citizen is, more or less, a constant debate over right and wrong. The premise of the film suggests that corruption exists everywhere and that no one is completely innocent. It is left to the audience to make up their minds, which is what makes this a compelling and intriguing movie.

Throughout the movie there are a few inconsistencies to go along with the farfetched nature of Shelton’s crimes, not to mention his mockery of the prison and justice systems as a whole. However, these are the same exaggerations that bring great thrills and action to the film. The conclusion fails to live up to the high expectations that audiences may have had at the beginning, but it is clear that both characters have learned a share of lessons

. Despite these shortcomings, Law Abiding Citizen does not fail to entertain or enthrall.