Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer sees a world in which there is little balance in terms of law and order, and to right the scales drastic action must be taken. From Equilibrium to The Recruit to Street Kings, Wimmer caters to the notion that in the service of good, an equal measure of wrong must be accepted.
His Law Abiding Citizen is a loving father and husband (Gerard Butler) who survives the vicious home invasion that takes the lives of his wife and young daughter. The more brutal of the two perps plays the system and escapes with relatively little punishment for his heinous crimes, and the husband comes to blame that miscarriage of justice on the fast-rising assistant district attorney (Jamie Foxx) who is seemingly far more interested in protecting his conviction percentage.
As with these kinds of scenarios, hubby was much more than a regular working stiff — he was a highly trained spy above spies, a big killer brain capable of devising Saw-like plots to strike fear into the hearts of the most heartless.
The cheese in Wimmer and director F. Gary Gray’s surprisingly engaging mousetrap is Butler, who is on the verge of overexposure on par with mid-career Gene Hackman and Michael Caine. This year alone, Butler has already given us The Ugly Truth and driven the mindless Gamer, which means he needs to breakout of the Hollywood ghetto, pronto.
Even with this Citizen following the letter of the action-oriented law, Butler won’t earn the credibility to advance to balance his own career scale. Grade: B-