Law Abiding Citizen

You know you're in for it when a pair of thugs break into King Leonidas' ... er, Clyde Shelton's (Gerard Butler)  home and kill his wife and daughter quite graphically in the first two minutes of the movie.

Then a hotshot attorney, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), who knows the law well enough to know that you apparently have to bend over backwards to get any real justice, makes a deal with the actual killer to send his accomplice to death row. But fortunately, Shelton is a man who plans. If he wasn't, the movie would only have been about ten minutes long.

We jump ahead ten years later to the execution of the guy who didn't actually kill anyone that Rice sent to death row. Unfortunately, somebody messed something up so he dies worse than the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark .

Shelton then kidnaps the real murderer and cuts him into 23 pieces. When you successfully get away with carving a dude up like a Thanksgiving Turkey, that should make the point well enough. However, Gerard Butler has penchant for playing absurdly violent men, and, well... here we are. The cops, including Colm Meany, are helpless due to some legal weirdness. Next, he kills the attorney who got the actual murderer off, you know the one he ALREADY killed into little pieces.Then he kills another 10 people with a mix of carbombs and a nifty remote-controlled combat robot.

Let's just recap real quick: After killing the ONLY two people involved in killing his family, Shelton kills almost a dozen other people to make the point that the legal system is broken. This is kind of like burning a cross on your lawn to make the Ku Klux Klan look bad.

The movie is beautifully shot throughout, mostly on location in the wonderful (and appropriately crime-ridden) city of Philadelphia, by director F. Gary Gray who also gave us the classic Friday and the superficially cerebral The Negotiator among other films.

Law Abiding Citizen is one those movies that's sure to spark a conversation about the nature of vigilantism, before you realize you just watched a film where the guy from Bait was the chewy moral center. You could just easily pair this off with another super-violent Gerard Butler film, or you could throw the audience a curve ball and show them P.S. I Love You , one of the sappier movies in recent years.


You have to hand it to any movie that can make a man who kills hundreds of people a week the most sympathetic character in the story.

That's more or less the goal of Gamer, a movie where a killing machine with a heart of gold, branded as Kable (Gerard Butler) by the evil corporate video game he is trapped in, must kill his way to freedom.

The game, called "Slayers," takes convicted felons and throws them into a penned off combat zone where they are controlled by over-privileged, over-wired 17-year-olds. If they are successfully piloted for 30 games, they win their freedom, something that's never happened, though Kable has come close.

In between lessons on how to keep fight sequences from getting dull, because they're most of the movie, there's lacerating satire. In fact, the opening sequence has people actually bunny hopping and tea-bagging their opponents like those jackasses you see all the time in online games.

Topping that winning combination are supporting characters of pure uncut greatness, including Michael C. Hall chewing on scenery with a Southern drawl and using phrases like "a cock-solid 68%," as Ken Castle. He even has a song and dance number to Sinatra's Under My Skin that blends into a fight sequence.

Kyra Sedgwick plays Gina Parker Smith, a journalist loyal only to herself. While  Ludacris rounds out the cast as Humanz Brother, the leader of the rebel faction bent on bringing down the system that allows Slayers, and it's Second Life-like counterpart-"Society", where people go for this world's version of cybersex-to exist.

Like The Running Man before him, Kable isn't getting off as easy "30 games and your out," as Castle is needs Kable dead-or at lest under his control-so he can essentially control the world with Nanex, the micro-machines that allow all this gaming goodness to happen. Nano-bots being to modern sci-fi what "nuclear" was to sci-fi in the 50's.

While the plot needlessly diverges in places, there are some truly great moments. One in particular stands out: After a punishing match filled with bullets and bodies, they jump-cut to thousands of people around the world cheering. It's a grotesque sight that left me feeling queasy, as good satire should.

One of the best parts of this movie is spotting all the cameos. John de LancieAllison LohmanTerry Crews all make appearances. But the cherry on top: Milo Ventimiglia as Rick Rape, a latex fetishist that gets Bane-broken over Kable's knee.

While most of the "social commentary" the film has to offer has been done before, and done better (RollerballDeath Race 2000), if you check your brain at the door, this is a sweet blow-some-shit-up action fest.  You could easily pair it with the another Gerard Butler absurd-violence-vehicle like 300 or  Law Abiding Citizen. If you wanted to go a more cerebral route, you could go with another surprisingly subversive film, Josie and the Pussy Cats(Really?-The Management)