Saturday, October 24, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen is a trashy and objectively bad thriller, and I won't for a second fault Rotten Tomatoes for their aggregate score of 25%. Actually, that sounds about right. But I will object to their explanation for the poor score being that it's "unnecessarily violent," hell, where I come from, that's a five-star recommendation! There's definitely a sort of rough, idiotic charm buried in Law Abiding Citizen's madness, and for the perhaps first time in my life I find myself at a loss as to whether it's "so bad it's good" or the movie in fact came out exactly like the director intended. But I can at least recommend a Netflixing for other people as rabid for thrillers as I am.

The film opens with Gerard Butler's whole family getting raped and murdered by two thugs. In order to get a death row conviction for one thug, the court allows the other thug to plead guilty in exchange for a five-year sentence. Gerard Butler loses his shit and decides he wants to creatively kill not only the surviving thug but all the lawyers, the judge, law clerks, the District Attorney, and everyone all the way up to the mayor in what he sees as a corrupt system. He gets put in jail after the first couple killings but the deaths mysteriously continue even while he's behind bars, making the character feel sort of like an attempt at fusing Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw from the Saw movies.

While the character is, unlike most cinematic vigilantes with murdered daughters, technically the antagonist (the protagonist being a lawyer played by Jamie Foxx), he's pretty much depicted as being the wise one and it's clear that we're meant to sympathize with at least a few of his murders. The movie is taken as a whole probably the most Republican-friendly film I've seen in a long, long time, or at least since Taken, with an actual, stated-out-loud end moral of "fuck civil rights," positing that the justice system is a failure because we don't immediately execute anyone and everyone suspected for a crime and instead waste time with farces like "trials" and "habeas corpus." This film won't set the box office aflame but I suspect it will become a major cult classic among the right wing for years to come.

Every character beyond Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx is either a warm body to be killed or a useless stereotype (Jamie Foxx's wife is the prototypical "shrill wife furious that her husband has a job and can't come to the kid's dance recital" character) and the plot gets shakier and shakier as the film progresses until near the end you could drive double-decker buses through its gaping holes, but it's decently tense and definitely very violent. It has an enormous body count percentage-wise, and it actually is pretty tricky to predict exactly who's going to live and who's going to die. And those who do die often do so with a degree of gore that will satisfy any horror fanatic, blood and bones and brains all featured. So all in all, it's pretty entertaining for what boils down to a piece of anti-Constitution propaganda.

2 Stars out of 5

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