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October 18, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

Law_abiding_citizen Director F. Gary Gray's ("Be Cool") disappointing urban suspense potboiler shares the same unsalted narrative soup as Spike Lee's bone-headed "Inside Man," albeit with a dash of horror copped from the "Saw" franchise. Philly detective Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) and his office are so busy negotiating with freshly jailed revenge killer Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler)--he's out to teach the justice system a lesson--that they barely get around to researching his the extent of his professional background. Clyde was a top-secret engineer for the government whose wife and daughter were murdered before his eyes ten years earlier. Try as the filmmakers might to create a sympathetic character out of Foxx's oxymoronic rule-breaking-but-honest investigator, Nick's hypocrisy runs as deep as Clyde's--or is it "Clive"? There's some confusion about pronunciation of Clive's first and last names, and even more about an unintended disappearing pair of handcuffs that precedes a jail cell murder. This is one continuity mistake that really does kick the willing suspension of disbelief out the window. Gerard Butler's scene-chewing performance holds interest even as the story alternately melts and congeals like a mobile bowl of poorly mixed Jell-O. Come to think of it, "Inside Man" might have even been half a letter grade better than this flop from screenwriter Kurt Wimmer.
Rated R. 108 mins. (C-) (Two Stars)

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