WHOEVER THOUGHT to combine torture porn with an indictment of our legal system should be chopped limb from limb. Law Abiding Citizen is a silly movie—preposterous and overblown, full of cringe-worthy ham-fisted preaching about right and wrong, and justice-only-for-the-just sentiments, while slyly setting up audience-cheering moments, like when Bad Guy #2 dies by agonizing vein-bursting, or a burglar gets whittled down to a torso. It's sick, really.
In classic Law & Order-style shenanigans, the two burglars who killed Clyde Shelton's (Gerard Butler) wife and child (right in front of his eyes!) are given judicial leniency. Understandably, Clyde's pissed. Going after the burglars first, then setting his sights on district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), who brokered the creampuff sentencing, everyman Clyde goes all supervillain on America's flawed justice system. Oh yeah, and Butler as Clyde is supposed to be a genius. (I had a really hard time sustaining my suspension of disbelief with this, especially when he's running around naked.)
Law Abiding Citizen aims to set up a classic battle of wits between Nick and Clyde, à la The Fugitive; unfortunately, no one here has any wits. After Clyde is imprisoned for admitted wrongdoing, he becomes a puppet master from within his solitary confinement cell, orchestrating his revenge on Lady Justice, while Nick helplessly flails about as his comrades get picked off, one by one. As the plot points become increasingly laughable, never once do you believe anything Butler is up to, while poor Foxx looks like he's so very confused about the buffoonery going on around him—especially after one of Butler's many mush-mouthed sermons about "the system" and "the justice." The whole movie feels like cruel and unusual punishment for a petty crime—like getting a bamboo manicure, just for wanting to see Gerard Butler naked.