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Law Abiding Citizen


Stars: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Colm Meaney, Leslie Bibb, Gregory Itzin, Regina Hall, Bruce McGill, Richard Portnow, Viola Davis

Director: F Gary Gray

When someone is paralysed by liquid from a Caribbean puffer fish, this thriller forfeits all right to believability - not that it makes any claims thereto. Charlie Chan would love this one.

Robbed and beaten after being foolish enough to open his door without checking, Clyde (Butler) watches the thieves murder his wife and daughter. The actual killer (Christian Stolte) turns state's evidence and strikes a legal bargain with the prosecutor (Foxx), under which he escapes with a 'murder 3' conviction while his aaccomplice is sentenced to death and spends the next 10 years on Death Row.

Clearly Clyde is not happy about this, but there's a twist, which it doesn't seem unfair to reveal, as it comes early. Clyde is a bad guy who deals indirectly in death, killing his assigned victims by remote control. After 10 years of planning, his revenge scheme kicks into action, and those associated with the crime and its consequences begin to die one by one.

Naturally, Foxx is left to last, although his performance isn't warm enough for us not to remain vaguely on Butler's side throughout - even when he kills the judge via her celphone (please!).

It wouldn't be right to reveal all the developments - just take it that this is seriously ridiculous if not unentertaining, The worst of several rough performances is given by the normally reliable Davis as the mayor, but then she does have to cope with such lines as 'Shut down the city. If you have to give shotguns to the meter maids, do it!'. Excellent cinematography by Jonathan Sela would grace a much more convincing film.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Momentum. Technicolor.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 22 Nov 2009