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Law Abiding Citizen

Release Date: October 16, 2009

 I'm not listening to you. See? Not listening.

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106/169 Max Braden I feel like this traded a challenging opportunity for a standard action thriller at the end. V for Vendetta is the better version.

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When 300 was released, Gerard Butler’s star was ascending. The film shattered box office records and its impeccably abbed lead, King Leonidas, was supposed to get a huge career boost from the $210 million blockbuster. His follow-up projects were PS: I Love You, Nim’s Island, RocknRolla, The Ugly Truth and Gamer. The combined box office of those five films barely matches 300 and that’s with the Katherine Heigl boost on The Ugly Truth. Butler is a well-toned man with a fantastic accent, but Gamer’s $20 million shows he isn’t much of a box office draw.

When Ray was released, Jamie Foxx’s star was ascending. People somehow temporarily forgot that he had been Wanda on In Living Color long enough to believe that he could be a hugely successful box office draw. His first attempt to prove this, Stealth, is worst of the biggest financial disasters of the early 2000s. A $140 million-budgeted movie earned $32 million. Ten films like that would turn a billionaire homeless. Losing money has been a pattern with his films. Jarhead cost $72 million to produce yet earned less than $63 million domestically. Miami Vice had a hefty price tag of $135 million yet it managed only $63 million domestically. The Kingdom was a $73 million project that earned $47.5 million domestically. The Soloist cost $60 million while earning a paltry $31.7 million. In point of fact, every film Jamie Foxx has made since Ray has failed to make back its negative cost through domestic box office revenue, even Dreamgirls ($120 million negative cost against a $103 million North American gross). Whatever he’s been getting paid is far too much.

The combination of these two failed box office draws is what makes Law Abiding Citizen such a fascinating project. The F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) film combines the two in an action drama that sees Butler’s character, Clyde Shelton, take revenge on Foxx’s character, Nick Rice. The source of their disagreement is the fact that Rice is a lawyer who proudly protects his conviction rate as a trial attorney in order to be upwardly mobile in his career. One of his cases involves a plea bargain with a killer who it just so happens ended the life of Shelton’s daughter. This man is given a lesser sentence in exchange for aiding in the conviction of another killer and getting that man placed on death row.

Shelton is dissatisfied with this injustice and gradually goes over to the bad place. Ten years later, he carefully orchestrates a plan for revenge against all of the people involved in his daughter’s death as well as the slimy attorney who did not extract the appropriate pound of flesh. Given that Shelton was a highly successful spy, his plummet to the dark side creates a nightmare scenario for Rice and everyone else in the judicial system who played a hand in the slap-on-the-wrist sentence given to the person who killed Shelton’s daughter. Thinking out loud, I don’t like Ray’s chances against King Leonidas.

Law Abiding Citizen also features the always hilarious Leslie Bibb, Academy Award nominee Viola Davis and a couple of highly underappreciated actors in Colm Meaney and Bruce McGill. While Foxx and Butler’s careers are definitely stuck in neutral at the moment, the presence of Gray behind the camera means this should rise above the sum of its parts. (David Mumpower/BOP)


Vital statistics for Law Abiding Citizen
Main Cast Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler
Supporting Cast Bruce McGill, Colm Meaney, Leslie Bibb, Michael Irby, Regina Hall, Viola Davis
Director F. Gary Gray
Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer
Distributor Overture Films
Official Site http://www.lawabidingcitizenfilm.com/
Rating R
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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