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Law Abiding Citizen: Two Steps Short of Perfection

A movie review of the Gerard Butler’s Law Abiding Citizen. Read at your own risk. as it gives away spoilers.

Law Abiding Citizen

Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is a family man. We only have about 10 seconds to like him and we do. He has a little daughter he adores. He jokes around with her and works while spending time with her. A good dad. He teases his wife. Then two men break into his house. One is violent. Very violent. Well, the wife and the kid are murdered. Clyde is left to die but he survives. He probably wishes he hadn’t, though. Not only he has lost the people he loved so much, he also witnesses the betrayal from the DA. Oh, yes. The DA-Nick (Jamie Foxx)- is not a bad guy but he loves his career and is going by the motto “some justice is better than no justice at all”. It is with this perception that he makes a deal with one of the murderers. The other one is set free on bail- the cruel one- the real guilty one. The problem is, Nick didn’t try to take it to the trial. He didn’t try. Sure, the judge is an analytical bitch (I am being flattering) and the chances of sending them both away were minimal. But this is where the jury system could have proved reliable. They would have believed a grieving man, a convict feeling really guilty and the other convict is such a psychopathic asshole that well…they wouldn’t have lost. Not even despite the judge. But this is not a courtroom drama. It is a thriller. It is the story of a father who decides that the system is so corrupt that taking revenge on some specific people won’t do. He decides take the system down. Mind you, this guy begged Nick not to make a deal. Nick did it anyway.

The movie fast forwards ten years. Nick has a good family. It is time for the bad guy to be executed. Well, someone has made sure it is painful. And just when the police think it is the work of psycho they let go, the psycho escapes- only to the arms of Clyde…He has waited for 10 years and the movie really just begins after he kills the murderer.

And he makes sure he gets caught.

It is just impressive. Clyde plays with the DA, the judge, the police, prison staff, FBI, NSA,….you name it. They can’t second guess him and they can’t stop him- he is already behind bars. His every move is pre-planned and systematic. They realize their prisoner is not a psycho. He is not insane. He is just insanely ready and smart.

- Gore? Just the right amount.

- Great acting? Check.

-Great script? Check.

- Wonderful spy stuff? Check?

- A couple of things that makes you wonder? Sure. The film is not perfect.

Yes, the movie is good. Well, I had fallen in love with the trailer and the movie didn’t disappoint me; except for one thing. I am going to give spoilers so consider yourselves


The only one fault for me was that I didn’t want the hero to “lose”. I never considered him bad for one second. Sure, he did kill some supposedly innocent people and there will probably be a lot of disagreeing with me but I never for one second thought Clyde was the bad guy. Consider his victims. I am guessing you have a specific person in mind that didn’t deserve it. But then again, she never really did anything when she was supposed to. She was busy working on her career and getting along with her boss. Yes, law and justice are complicated concepts and I didn’t think she deserved her ending. But I didn’t feel sorry about it either. Because in the end,no one really cares about what happens to other people. No, think about it. You feel sorry for the sufferers   But you are not feeling their pain. No matter what a good person you are, or how well you empathize, you are not going to suffer like they do -unless you suffer from the same thing. Yes, a father can understand what a terrible thing it must be to lose a child. But understanding is one thing and going through the same thing is another. And well..Nick doesn’t even empathize until it is too late.

Nick and his assistant cared more about their records. And when does their conscience kick in? When they feel like their lives are in danger; after someone has taught some others their lesson. Convenient.

I didn’t think Clyde would survive. I don’t think he would have gone on to live a long, happy life. He made his point but he failed to make the final one. Great, some lives were saved. But the way it ends for Nick? Now- I love Hollywood but I’m not complimenting when I say the ending is very typical of Hollywood. What could have made the movie a masterpiece would have been a David Fincheresque ending- like Se7en. Nick- learned his lesson. Yes, he suffered. But again, it didn’t happen to him. I would have loved to see Nick lose. Completely lose.

My only two problems:

1)      Nick’s ending

2)      2) The very first scene when Clyde opens the door without asking who is behind it. I mean really?? Yes, it had to be done to start the movie but Clyde is not a dim wit. He is an “intelligence” (I mean intelligence in the CIA sense) genius. He knows what a crappy place the world is. And he just opens the door?????


Other than that, this is just very well-done.

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  1. Posted December 24, 2009 at 5:46 am

    The reason I had problem deciding that Clyde was good or bad happened when Sarah’s[Leslie Bibb] character died. But obviously Maybe I was not on Clyde’s side all the time but I was never on Nick’s side.

    And, a Se7en kinda ending would’ve been so awesome now that you mention it. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or whatever but Se7en is my favorite movie ever, EVER. But then again the ending of LAC maybe a typical hollywood ending but I didn’t hate it. But typical or not you have to admit you never saw that coming.

  2. pina
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 7:21 am

    keep that in mind that it\’s a hollywood movie and the ending MUST be hollywoodish, that means bad guy loses, good guys win. You ARE bad guy, if you want to blow the city hall, kill all the \’important good guys\’. It doesn\’t matter if your family is murdered and the murderer is out because of the justice system.

  3. Posted December 24, 2009 at 7:39 am

    1) I wanted a Se7enish ending. The good guy was purely good yet he totally lost. And the ending just remains with me to this day. 2)Nick was definitely not a good guy. Sure, he didn’t directly go about directly killing people but he set a murderer and rapist and a possible child rapist free!!! Three years for that guy??? How can you live yourself? Clyde’s family was surely not the only victims and were not the last.
    3) Clyde took it too far. But he had a point. No one understands you until they learn their lesson in blood. I would have no problems having Clyde die. But Nick should have died first.
    4) The beginning and an ending were such stupid for any man, let alone Clyde.

    Anyway, still loved it.

  4. Posted December 24, 2009 at 9:10 am

    The best part of the movie was when that female judge got killed. Freaked me out.

  5. Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Yeah. She really had it coming, though. She is as guilty as Nick in the whole thing- maybe even guiltier. I also loved the show Clyde put on in the hearing.

    “You were about to let me go! Are you kidding me? This is why we are here in the first place!”

  6. pelin
    Posted December 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm


  7. pelin(kuzen)
    Posted January 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    This film is wonderful.acting,script,gerard butler(especially) are wonderful.ı agree with you pınar ablacım. ı believe that american laws are so awful that Clyde is right about what he did the murderers.both darby and ames deserved everything.ı can’T say anything about nick.innocent people died because of nick.thats all ı can say.:)

  8. Posted February 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Yep, Nick needed to take the blame. He let his ego and ambitions got in the way. He could have stopped Clyde- he wouldn’t even go to such lengths, had Nick not agreed to make that deal.

  9. Posted February 13, 2010 at 6:49 am

    As I said, I sympathize with his character and agree with his point of view…
    Though, he killed more people than he should to fulfil his revenge; no matter if they deserved to die or not, and I believe few people did not really deserved.
    I would have killed only the ones directly responsible for my family’s death…

  10. Ash The genius
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Did it ever occur to you that clyde didn’t die. This was one of those movies that you didn’t know when to applaud Clyde or be upset with him thinking he went to far. Clyde asked for a Sleep-matic fire proof mattress. The first thing he ever ask for after being detained. Did it ever occur to anyone that we never saw Clyde burn the fire burned around the bed while Clyde was looking at a photo of his wife and child. But the bed never blaze. Don’t you get it clyde had a back up plan all along if his plan of bombing the buildiong went awry( as it did by Nick who ‘thinks” he has killed Clyde).

  11. Posted April 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Oh my God, Ash! That’s a brilliant interpretation. I hadn’t really remembered the fire-proof mattress. I have to go back to the movie and check it. If you are right, then there is only one weird thing. That Clyde could be so gullible about opening the door…but that can totally be forgiven in the awesomeness of the movie.

    Thanks for the great comment.

  12. Posted April 6, 2010 at 10:17 am

    @Patricia: He went a little extreme but I think it is even a miracle he didn’t lose his mind, waiting on a revenge for 10 years. And he wasn’t just after those 2- he wanted to bring the whole system down. But hey, those extra “victims” just make the movie even more exciting!

  13. Kaitlin
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    While we may not have seen him die, it’s probably a safe bet. Even if you’re mattress is not on fire, you wouldn’t live through the chemicals and smoke inhilation. And while many agree Nick didn’t do the right thing, that is how our system works. A judge is only there to interpret the law, and there are so many loopholes in our laws now, that she may not have a choice in the matter, even if you know someone is guilty. It’s not a subjective thing. Nick may have taken the easy, more self-serving route, but they had a point–there’s a good chance without solid evidence both of those men would have walked away. It makes for a tough call.

  14. John Smith
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:25 am

    We need a Law Abiding Citizen: Return to finish (etc), where Clyde had ‘another’ way out of solitary……

    That would make for a GREAT movie…

  15. John Smith
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:25 am

    We need a Law Abiding Citizen: Return to finish (etc), where Clyde had \’another\’ way out of solitary……

    That would make for a GREAT movie…

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