Law Abiding Citizen is a violent neo-noir by director F. Gary Gray that begs to be more than just your run-of-the-mill thrill ride but falls victim to overthinking the motives of its own characters that it tries to craft, leaving a film that has a lot of anger and bloodshed, but not much more. If not for the constant beating of the moral drum by Clyde (Gerard Butler), the film may not have been as bad left to simply be a mind-numbingly fun movie, but his repeating of the motto that everyone must account for their actions and intention to change things misses the mark completely. As long as the audience doesn’t think too much about the plot holes and the missed opportunities, we can revel in the excellent cinematography, the mystery of the kills, and a fabulously shocking death scene. My review after the jump:
The story begins with a mild-mannered Clyde Shelton, dressed in completely unassuming apparel, who has settled down with his family when his precious world is shattered like a snow globe as robbers break in and murder his family, leaving him for dead. When prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) doesn’t go after the full sentence and opts for a confession, Clyde feels betrayed by the law and sets out to right the wrong. Despite being locked up after exacting revenge on the killers, people involved in the case continue to die in inventive ways and Clyde’s frightening past is revealed.
One of Law Abiding Citizen‘s most redeeming qualities is that many will end up rooting for the devilishly clever Clyde, despite his questionable motives. Additionally, the Philadelphia setting is played perfectly, giving us two working prisons for the shoot and a gorgeous town hall building.
As for the extended director’s cut on Blu-ray, we are treated to a slick interface in the theme of Law Abiding Citizen to go along with special features that highlight the effort put into the film. With any director’s cut version, the inevitable question that springs up is how much running time is added and what is included. We are treated to a little less than 10 minutes of extra footage that helps shape Law Abiding Citizen a bit more but is not significant enough to change the film in any meaningful way. However, the special features give a bit more bang for your buck.
The biggest additions worth merit are the two featurettes. The first is called “The Justice Of Law Abiding Citizen” and uses real law professionals that help give the story credence by running through the various terminology and court cases referred to in the film. The ultimate result of the six minute clip is a mixed bag though, as it answers quite a bit and is convincing but leaves one glaring plot hole wide open.
The next featurette, “Law In Black And White- Behind The Scenes”, runs 15 minutes and is a behind the scenes look at the development of the characters, story, and where they filmed. Among the highlights are the prisons they shot at and how Butler was originally going to play Nick before Foxx came aboard. Entertaining and informative, it is a worthwhile clip that anyone that enjoyed the film will surely relish.
In addition to these two featurettes, we are given some visual effects progressions that show how the filmmakers added to the actual footage, giving us a plate shot view and a final shot view that is quite interesting. Those looking for a different ending then the theatrical release will be pleased to see the final of these features includes a proposed alternate conclusion visualization (read: animation) that resulted in a scene used in the film. However, I don’t think it helped at all but your results may vary. In total, we are given over 25 minutes of special features.
Also included on the disc is the winning trailer mash-up that is the result of a contest held before the film released theatrically. As usual, the full theatrical trailer is also included. On the sound and video front, Law Abiding Citizen is beautifully rendered in high-definition and features rich sound without any noticeable defects in either. Look for the disc to release on Feb. 16, 2010.
Please note, this review was of the unreleased test disc and changes may be made.