Law Abiding Citizen

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Law Abiding Citizen
Two men, one looking to the right. Below another man looking to the left.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Produced by
Written by Kurt Wimmer
Starring
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Jonathan Sela
Edited by Tariq Anwar
Production
company
The Film Department
Distributed by Overture Films
Release date
  • October 16, 2009 (2009-10-16)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $53 million[1]
Box office $126.7 million[2]

Law Abiding Citizen is a 2009 American crime drama thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray from a screenplay written by Kurt Wimmer and stars Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx. The film takes place in Philadelphia and tells the story of a man driven to seek justice while targeting not only his family's killer but also those who have supported a corrupt criminal justice system. Law Abiding Citizen was released theatrically in North America on October 16, 2009.[3]

The film was nominated for a Saturn Award as the Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film of the year, but lost to Inglourious Basterds. The film also garnered NAACP Image Awards nominations for both Jamie Foxx (Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture) and F. Gary Gray (Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture).[4]

Plot[edit]

In a home invasion, Clarence Darby kills the wife and daughter of Clyde Shelton. Prosecutor Nick Rice is unable to securely convict Darby. Unwilling to take a chance on lowering his high conviction rate, he makes a deal with Darby, who pleads guilty to a lesser charge and receives a reduced sentence for testifying against his accomplice, Rupert Ames. Ames is convicted and sentenced to death. Darby is released after a few years. Shelton feels betrayed by Rice's actions and the justice system.

Ten years later, Ames is executed. Unknown to the prosecutors and witnesses, the drug usually used has been replaced with an anticonvulsant, causing Ames to die painfully. Evidence implicates Darby. An anonymous caller alerts Darby as the police draw near and directs him to a remote location. Shelton, disguised as a cop, reveals himself as the caller and paralyzes Darby with poison. He straps Darby to a table and videorecords dismembering him. When Darby's remains are found, evidence ties his death to Shelton. Shelton willingly gives himself up and goes to jail.

After Rice learns his wife and daughter were sent the dismemberment video and were traumatized by it, he initially refuses a plea bargain with Shelton. District Attorney Jonas Cantrell orders Rice to make a deal. In court, Shelton represents himself and successfully argues he should be granted bail, then berates the judge for accepting the "bullshit" legal precedents he cited and for being too eager to let madmen and murderers back on the street. The judge jails Shelton for contempt of court.

Shelton demands a steak lunch be delivered to his cell by a specific time, in return for telling where to find Darby's lawyer, who was reported missing earlier. Rice agrees, though the lunch is delayed by a few minutes by the warden's security measures. Once he has his meal, Shelton provides a set of coordinates, where Rice and the others find Darby's lawyer, buried alive but suffocated while Shelton's dinner was delayed. Shelton kills his cellmate, forcing the warden to secure him in solitary confinement.

Cantrell arranges a meeting with a CIA contact and brings Rice. They learn that Shelton previously worked with the agency, creating imaginative assassination devices. Further, they are warned Shelton can kill anyone he wishes. During a meeting with Rice and Cantrell, the judge dies when her cell phone explodes. A number of Rice's assistants die from car bombs. As Rice and Cantrell leave the funeral of one of Rice's assistants, a weaponized bomb disposal robot kills Cantrell. The mayor puts the city under lockdown and promotes Rice to acting District Attorney.

Rice learns Shelton owns an auto garage near the prison. A tunnel from the garage leads to a cache of guns, disguises, and other equipment below the solitary confinement cells, and secret entrances to each cell. He and Police Detective Dunnigan realize Shelton wanted to be in solitary, allowing him to easily leave the prison without detection and commit the murders. Evidence in the tunnel points Rice to Shelton's next target, city hall, where the mayor is holding an emergency meeting. Rice and his men cannot find Shelton but discover evidence pointing to a cell-phone-activated suitcase bomb in the room directly below the meeting.

Shelton returns to his garage after planting the city hall bomb, then returns to his cell. He is surprised to find Rice waiting for him. Rice berates Shelton for taking revenge because of the pain he suffered. Shelton suggests another deal, but Rice refuses, saying he no longer makes deals with murderers, which he thanks Shelton for teaching him. Rice and Dunnigan secure Shelton in the cell and flee. Despite being pleased Rice finally learned his lesson, Shelton dials the cell phone on the city hall bomb. Shelton realizes too late Rice has moved the bomb to his cell, which is now sealed. Shelton looks upon his daughter's bracelet with a sense of sadness, accepting his fate as the bomb explodes.

Cast[edit]

Development[edit]

Frank Darabont was originally attached as director, but left the project in early October 2008 over script disagreements. According to rumor, his relationship with the film's production company "ended ugly."[5]

In a reversal of their roles in the final version, Gerard Butler was initially signed on to play the prosecuting attorney, while Jamie Foxx was the criminal mastermind operating from inside prison.[6]

Production[edit]

Filming began in August 2008 and took place in and around Philadelphia. Filming locations included Philadelphia's City Hall and the old Eastern State Penitentiary.

The film was edited after being threatened with an NC-17 rating for violence,[7] with the full version released unrated on Blu-ray.

Soundtrack[edit]

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.[8] The film also uses "Eminence Front" by The Who and "Engine No. 9" by Deftones on Clyde's iPod while he is eating his steak in his cell. While Clyde calls Darby to help him 'escape' the police after Ames' execution, "Bloodline" by Slayer is Darby's ringer. The tune at the end for closing credits is "Sin's A Good Man's Brother" by Grand Funk Railroad.

Release[edit]

The film was released theatrically on October 16, 2009.[9] The first theatrical trailer was released on August 14, 2009 and was attached to District 9.[10]

The premiere was held on November 15, 2009 at the Cineworld complex in Glasgow - hometown of Gerard Butler. Many British tabloids have labeled this event as the "Homecoming Premiere", in reference to the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations.[11]

Reception[edit]

The film took second place in its opening weekend, with $21,039,502, behind Where the Wild Things Are. It went on to gross $126.6 million total worldwide.[12]

Law Abiding Citizen received negative reviews from critics. Critics on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 25% score, with an average rating of 4.3/10 based on 155 reviews. The site's critical consensus states that "Unnecessarily violent and unflinchingly absurd, Law Abiding Citizen is plagued by subpar acting and a story that defies reason". In contrast, users on the site gave the film an average score of 75%.[13]

In his review for the Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert said, "Law Abiding Citizen is the kind of movie you will like more at the time than in retrospect." He then went on to say, "Still, there's something to be said for a movie you like well enough at the time." Ebert rated the film 3 out of 4 stars.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Distribution: A Love Story". Screen Daily. 2009-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen (2009)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  3. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  4. ^ Awards for Law Abiding Citizen at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ "SHAWSHANK's Frank Darabont Quit LAW ABIDING CITIZEN!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  6. ^ "FOXX EARNS CITIZENSHIP WITH DARABONT". CHUD. Archived from the original on November 12, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen - Gerard Butler interview". IndieLondon. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ Dan Goldwasser (September 11, 2009). "Brian Tyler scores Law Abiding Citizen". ScoringSessions.com. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Exclusive Clip, Contest for LAW ABIDING CITIZEN!". Fangoria.com. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  10. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen - Trailer". The Film Stage. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  11. ^ "Exclusive: Scots star Gerard Butler ready for homecoming premiere - and hitting 40". The Daily Record. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  12. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen (2009)". Box Office Mojo. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  13. ^ "Law Abiding Citizen". 16 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Roger Ebert (14 October 2009). "Law Abiding Citizen". rogerebert.com. 

External links[edit]