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Law Abiding Citizen

Theatrical release poster
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Produced by Gerard Butler
Kurt Wimmer
Mark Gill
Lucas Foster
Alan Siegel
Written by Kurt Wimmer
Starring Gerard Butler
Jamie Foxx
Leslie Bibb
Colm Meaney
Viola Davis
Bruce McGill
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Jonathan Sela
Editing by Tariq Anwar
Studio The Film Department
Distributed by Overture Films
Release date(s) October 16, 2009
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $53,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $109,283,744[2]

Law Abiding Citizen is a 2009 thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray from a screenplay written by Kurt Wimmer, and starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. The film takes place in Philadelphia and tells the story of a man who decides to exact justice on his family's killers, as well as the criminal justice system. Law Abiding Citizen was released theatrically in North America on October 16, 2009.[3]

Contents

Plot

After witnessing his wife raped and daughter killed in a home invasion, engineer Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is told that one of the criminals responsible will only get a light conviction, as much of the evidence against him was compromised by a bungled forensic investigation. Shelton pleads for the prosecutor, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), to take the case to court. However, Rice is mostly interested in maintaining his 96% conviction rate, and tells Shelton that the case is too weak to go to court. Rice then makes a deal with Clarence Darby, the actual criminal who murdered and raped Shelton's wife and daughter, for third-degree murder; his accomplice, Rupert Ames, is sent to death row. Shelton later sees Rice shaking hands with Darby as if they had just finished a deal, and feels betrayed.

Ten years later, Ames is executed by lethal injection; due to a chemical alteration, he dies in agonizing pain. Initial evidence leads to Darby, who is alerted to the presence of police by a stranger who calls his phone, helping him escape. The stranger orders Darby to throw away his gun and get in a cop car. He says that he will find a cop sleeping in the car. The caller tells Darby to make the cop drive to an abandoned warehouse. Once at the warehouse, Darby forces the cop out of the car and, with the cop's gun, gets ready to execute him. However, the cop is revealed to be Shelton in disguise, who reveals that he's also the stranger who called him in; when Darby attempts to shoot him, the gun handle injects him with tetrodotoxin, paralyzing him but leaving him fully aware. Shelton leads Darby into the warehouse, where he straps him to an operating table, confessing that he had caused the chemical alteration that killed Ames. At that point, Shelton dismembers Darby alive to avenge his family's murder. The police find Darby's remains, and they quickly arrest Shelton, who offers no resistance.

Rice arrives to interrogate Shelton and congratulate him on removing Darby from society. While he's doing so, Shelton initially appears to confess to the crime, and Rice begins to depart, but Shelton points out that his carefully worded statement was not technically a confession. During this time, Rice's family, with which he is too busy to spend time, receives a DVD of Shelton torturing Darby to death. Shelton agrees to make a real confession in exchange for an expensive mattress in his prison cell. Rice agrees after his superior orders him to agree, as there is virtually no real evidence connecting Shelton to the murder. At his hearing, Shelton opposes Rice's motion to deny him bail, citing obscure legal precedents. After Judge Laura Burch (Annie Corley), who also presided at Ames trial, agrees, Shelton begins a tirade, railing against the court's preference for legal technicalities over justice, and is removed for contempt of court.

Rice delivers Shelton's mattress and receives his confession of the murders of Darby and Ames. However, Shelton bargains to make another confession for the life of Bill Reynolds (Richard Portnow), Darby's attorney. Shelton claims that Reynolds is alive, and will give his location in exchange for an expensive steak dinner delivered at precisely 1 p.m., along with music from his iPod. Despite repeating that the time must be exact, Warden Inger (Gregory Itzin) forces multiple searches, resulting in Shelton receiving his lunch eight minutes late. After finally getting Reynolds' location, Rice and Detective Dunnigan (Colm Meaney) take a helicopter to it, only to find Reynolds buried alive and only minutes dead, with Inger's delay causing him to suffocate. Shelton, after finishing lunch, brutally murders his cellmate using T-Bone from his steak. Shelton is then put into a solitary confinement cell underground. After Rice's assistant, Sarah Lowell (Leslie Bibb), finds evidence of contract payments to Shelton from the Department of Defense, district attorney Jonas Cantrell (Bruce McGill) takes Rice to meet a CIA operative (Michael Kelly) who worked with Shelton. The operative tells them that Shelton was a "brain" for the CIA, working in a black ops think tank, that he was the best in the field until he retired, and that if Shelton wants them dead, he'll succeed in it unless they kill him first. The following day, Rice and Cantrell convince Burch to sign an order restricting Shelton's privileges, despite the fact that this might violate his civil rights. Moments later, she answers her cell phone which explodes next to her head, killing her instantly.

Rice confronts Shelton, who says the killings are not about revenge, but about the failure of the justice system, and Rice's personal failure to keep his word. He then claims that, unless he is released with all charges dropped by 6 A.M., he will kill everyone in the DA's office. The office workers congregate at the prison, they once again do not listen to Shelton and 6 A.M. passes by. Rice sends them all home to rest. As they enter their cars, bombs go off from underneath each vehicle, killing six, including Rice's protege Sarah. Realizing that Shelton is keeping good to his word, Rice ponders how Shelton can commit a spree of murders on the outside while he's behind bars, leading him to speculate that Shelton has an accomplice.

At Sarah's funeral, a remote drone slaughters several attendees, including Cantrell. Rice is appointed acting DA by the mayor (Viola Davis), and a massive meeting is called to determine a way to remove Shelton. Rice, via Sarah's computer, receives some information that points to Shelton owning a garage right next to the prison. He and Dunnigan examine the garage, finding a tunnel system leading to every solitary cell underground, including Shelton's, which can explain how Shelton solely does his work to commit the murders. Upon entering Shelton's cell, Rice finds it empty.

Shelton, dressed as a janitor, plants a napalm bomb in City Hall, planning to kill the mayor and most of the senior staff of the Philadelphia emergency services as the final cog of his master plan; however, Rice finds it just in time. Upon his return to his cell, Shelton is confronted by Rice. Shelton offers one final deal which Rice refuses, stating that he no longer makes deals with murderers (the origin of Shelton's anger). Rice calmly tells Shelton that if he attempts to detonate the bomb, he'll have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. Shelton, after considering for a long moment, does so anyway, and Rice locks shut Shelton's cell, while Dunnigan locks his escape route. Shelton quickly realizes the bomb was placed under his cot, and calmly looks at a bracelet made by his daughter just before her murder. At that time, the bomb goes off, killing Shelton and destroying most of the cell block.

The film ends with Rice finally joining his wife for his daughter's recital.

Cast

Production

Filming began in January 2009 and took place in and around Philadelphia. Filming locations included Philadelphia's City Hall and the old Broadmeadows prison.

Butler and his production company developed the film. For the two years of planning, Butler planned to play Nick Rice. At the last minute he decided that it would be interesting to take on the role of Clyde. Since Jamie Foxx was already signed on to play Clyde, he asked if he would mind switching roles. Foxx loved his performance in 300 and thought that as a viewer he would love seeing Gerard "beating people and blowing stuff up".[4]

Music

The score to Law Abiding Citizen was composed by Brian Tyler, who recorded his score with a 52-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Sony Scoring Stage with help from Kieron Charlesworth.[5] The movie also uses "Eminence Front" by The Who and "Engine No. 9" by The Deftones on Clyde's iPod while he is eating his steak in his cell.

Release

Theatrical

The film was released theatrically on October 16, 2009.[6] The first theatrical trailer was released on August 14, 2009 and was attached to District 9.[7]

The premiere was held on November 15, 2009 at the Cineworld complex in Glasgow - hometown of Gerard Butler. Many British tabloids have labelled this event as the "Homecoming Premiere", in reference to the Homecoming Scotland celebrations.[8]

Reception

Law Abiding Citizen received generally negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 25% of critics gave positive reviews based on 131 reviews with an average score of 4.4/10.[9] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating based on 100 reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 34% based on 26 reviews.[10]

Despite negative criticism, Law Abiding Citizen was very well received by moviegoers. The film took second place in its opening weekend, with $21,039,502, behind Where the Wild Things Are. It went on to gross over $100 million total worldwide, making it a financial success. The film was also rated very highly by viewers on various media websites[2]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of a possible four, and wrote, "Law Abiding Citizen is one of those movies you like more at the time than in retrospect. I mean, come on, you're thinking. Still, there's something to be said for a movie you like well enough at the time."[11]

References

External links








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