Law Abiding Citizen

I watched this last night. I didn’t like it very much.

It started with your typical: Perfect, loving family; wife and child slaughtered in violent and random break in as father lies bound/gagged/helpless. You’ve seen it in like half a dozen other movies, whatever.

That’s fine and to be expected, no big deal. Then the legal system lets dude down, and so we go off on our wild revenge fantasy thing. There are explosions and death and general mayhem, things are alright. It’s completely unbelievable, but fun, and people/things are blowing up. You can’t really complain.

The problem (for me) is basically that, for the first two-thirds of the movie I felt like I was supposed to be cheering for Butler and not liking Foxx very much (both of which were true), and then suddenly at the end of the movie you’re supposed to switch gears and hate Butler and hope Foxx wins (neither of which happened for me).

At the start of the movie, Foxx is a dick. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the whole idea is that the Justice System Doesn’t Work So Hot, and Butler is killing people who game it and use it for themselves. (Foxx, for example, who seems to want a high score in Prosecutorism, and would rather cut deals than maybe lose a case.) So, you’re along for the ride and things are going fine…and then at the very end…Butler is still doing the same stuff and is now the bad guy, and Foxx is still doing the same stuff and is now the good guy. None of the characters in the movie seem to change.

And the ending. The end is just stupid, and is also something you’ve seen in about half a dozen movies. Other than the nifty ways Bulter kills people, there’s nothing interesting about this movie.

At the very least, wait to rent it or go to a matinee. I really wanted to like it, but things just didn’t work out between us.

Should have seen Where the Wild Things Are instead.

I agree that it wasn’t very believable, but… if I was supposed to be rooting for Butler, they sure never gave me a reason. Dude was killing people all but indiscriminately. I don’t care if your family got murdered, you don’t get to do that and be a hero.

That guy gets typecast a lot.

That’s too bad - I almost went to see this thinking it was a fun revenge flick. But it sounds more like a tragedy creating a SAW-like character, which doesn’t have the same appeal to me.

He’s not that much like the villain in Saw, but it’s definitely tragedy creates genius serial killer as opposed to a traditional revenge flick.

I don’t think he was killing people willy-nilly. Without getting into spoiler territory, it seemed to me they were pressing home the point that he was killing people who were abusing the legal system. It went off the rails a bit toward the end, but so did the rest of the movie. I don’t mean to say that he was a Good Guy, but felt the movie set it up in a way that he had reasonable motive and just cause, and that he was trying to change the broken legal system by blowing the appropriate people up. I guess what I’m saying is, I felt Foxx was more of a shit than Butler was, and that’s one of the reasons the movie fell flat for me.

I like that Butler is starring in movies that sound like they were named by Bender from Futurama. Next: Gerard Butler in Single Female Lawyer.

He was pretty much a straight up serial killer. He had a victim profile and there were plenty of innocents on it. Yeah, he had a traumatic event that was supposed to excuse a murderous rampage, but it really doesn’t. I could have sympathized to an extent if he’d just gone after the men who killed his family, or even if his subsequent targets had been nasty, sneering, corrupt types in league with the murderers or the like, (even though it wouldn’t have been -right-), but most of the people he targeted had, at best, not cared especially much about his personal tragedy. Gosh, what a terrible thing. Surely that deserves death.

[No spoilers]

Well, it’s not just that they didn’t care, the way some stranger on the street didn’t care. Their job was, arguably, to bring him some justice, and they decided to pursue their own selfish ends instead.

That right there is about five hundred times as much thinking as this movie deserves, and about five hundred thousand times as much thought as anybody put into making it. Easily the worst movie I saw all year. And I saw Terminator: Salvation this year. It’s bad enough that this is basically a remake of “Death Wish” but without Charles Bronson, or that it’s at its core a torture porn movie that tries to be respectable by leaving the torture off-screen. But when you layer on the absurd legal-drama aspect, a howlingly unbelievable final act, and a cast that thought about phoning it in but then couldn’t be bothered…holy cripes, what a mess. Thumbs way, way down. I can’t think of a single thing the movie did well. The acting is awful, the script is awful, the theme and message are awful, it’s full of absurd movie tropes to the point of self-parody. It has one good shock moment, I guess, and the special effects were fine. The credits were nice. Especially the ones that signified the end of the movie.

I saw it and will just say one new thing…

I’m glad Colm Meany didn’t have to die.

Well, a couple things: first of all, the prosecutor in a criminal case is not there on behalf of the victim of the crime. They are there on behalf of the government, which has a vested interest in seeing that its laws are not violated. So, no, their job is not to bring Butler’s character justice. And secondly, I’d certainly argue (as did Foxx’s character), that they -did- bring him some justice. It wasn’t the result Butler wanted. It was very possibly a bad call. But one of the criminals got the death penalty and the other spent time in prison. I missed the very beginning of the movie so I didn’t see what who did with the murders, but I got the impression that the one that got off more lightly should have been the one getting the full brunt of the law. So, yeah, arguably a miscarriage of justice to an extent. But neither did they walk off free men without any consequence.

So which is the better Death Wish remake: this or The Brave One?

I swear, if you’d have told me a few years ago that frigging Death Wish would be the template on which all future movies would be based, I… well, I would have been a little bit surprised, at least.

[Some spoilers – but honestly, anything that makes you less likely to see this movie is doing you a favor, trust me]

Well, yes and no. They’re there on behalf of the people of their state, and their job is to make sure justice is done. It’s pretty clearly the premise of the movie that Foxx refuses to take a decent case against the worst offender to trial because he’s afraid of losing, because he values his high conviction rate, because he has political aspirations of his own. I don’t think that part of the movie was left open to question. (Of course, Butler’s killing spree extends to blameless people like the judge or the defense attorney, who are doing their jobs just the way they’re supposed to. I guess Butler’s beef there is that the system itself is corrupt and needs to be taken out root and branch.)

I missed the very beginning of the movie so I didn’t see what who did with the murders,

Guy #1, who got the wrist-slap, is the one who stabbed Butler (while his death-row-bound accomplice is going “What are you doing?! Let’s get out of here!!”), raped Butler’s wife (accomplice still going “Let’s go! Stop!”), murdered Butler’s wife (accomplice still telling him to stop), and then raped and murdered Butler’s eight-year-old daughter. So, again, the movie makes pretty clear that if there’s one guy you should be trying to get the death penalty for, it’s the one who didn’t get the death penalty. Believe me, subtlety and grey areas were not this movie’s forte.

Even if you accept Foxx’s decision as clearly unethical, which I don’t, and that this gives Butler a legitimate grievance sufficient to commit homicide, which I also do not agree with, Butler should be going after Foxx. And he doesn’t. He specifically and deliberately goes after everyone else.

Because he’s saving him – FOR LAST!!!

Look, I agree with you about the movie. Foxx’s and everyone else’s supposed transgressions aren’t that terrible, and the moral high ground that the movie continually insists that Butler has is just not there. Part of the reason it’s a terrible film is that it’s a deranged-serial-killer movie that seems to expect you to be rooting for the deranged serial killer. When the filmmakers get up and start screaming about how the criminal justice system cares more about “the law” and criminals’ “rights” than it does about righteously cutting them to pieces with power saws, they’re expecting us to leap to our feet cheering. And are probably surprised when we just start squirming and looking for the exits.


As I saw it, the judge was firmly in Butler’s established rules of badguyism when she was killed. In that scene, she expressly states that she’s going to deny his (Butler’s) basic rights, then immediately after that, there’s the phone thing with the “I do what I want because I’m the judge!” …and then she dies. For me, that scene pretty much summed up the what the movie was all about.


I’m getting a kick out of the fact that we’re referring to the characters by actor name…so forgettable. Obviously, I’m coming at this from a different angle than malkav11, but I hope we can at least all agree that the movie is awful.

I’ll take it further and say it’s a terrible film because it’s a deranged-serial-killer movie that seems to expect you to be rooting for the deranged serial killer until the last act, where it switches gears and then seems to expect you to be rooting for the people you were rooting against.

Fun Fact:

Both Jeff Goldblum and Laurence Fishburne played rapist/murderers in Death Wish and Death Wish II, respectively.

I think it’s meant to be one of those movies where you kind of sympathize with both ends of the conflict, except I didn’t because Butler was a psychopath.

The thing that got me from the start is how they even managed to put him in prison. They had nothing on him other then the motive and the fact that he happened to own the same warehouse where the first dude was killed. They even admit that they have nothing on him and that they’d need to get a confession out of him which is a double wtf because last I checked they can’t just trow dudes in jail just because they think he did it.

Other then that the movie was predicable and I’m sure I’ll forget about it by next week.