Sunday, November 29, 2009

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN - tricksy but disposable

F Gary Gray, director of BE COOL and that godawful remake of THE ITALIAN JOB, returns to our screens after a four year hiatus with a perfectly entertaining but utterly disposable thriller. Gerard Butler stars as an apparently normal guy turned vigilante, taking revenge on a legal system that has failed his brutally murdered wife and child. I am forever amazed by Butler's ability to sustain moderate success in Hollywood despite his inability to pull off an American accent. Luckily, he's given back up by Jamie Foxx as the prosecuting attorney who agreed to the plea; Bruce McGill as the DA; and Viola Davis as perhaps the most impeccably dressed Mayor ever to appear on a movie screen. What sells the film are the sleek visuals; beautiful photography of Philadelphia's City Hall; the genuine chemistry between Butler and Foxx; and the rather satisfyingly tricksy mechanics of how the crimes have been pulled off. To my mind, the cool tricks offset the fact that we are being sold a "good guy goes psycho" movie in the first half of the film, but in fact, Butler's character was never an ordinary guy. Looking at the negatives, the least said about final five minutes - not to mention the movie's piss-poor attempt to examine the issues of doing right versus criminal justice, and the balance between civil liberty and national security - the better.

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is on release in the US, Canada, Greece, Denmark, the Philippines, Israel, Russia, Brazil, Norway, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, Ukraine and the UK. It opens next weekend in Hungary and Romania and on December 10th in the Netherlands, South Korea and Finland. It opens on January 28th in Australia.

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