Analysis of Law Abiding Citizen

November 5, 2009 at 2:20 am 15 comments

Movie Poster

Oh Gerard. Gerard, Gerard! Wait—don’t click off of the page, my Gerard Butler mooning is over…but my mooning over Law Abiding Citizen isn’t!

 If you don’t know what the movie is about or have not seen the trailer, read and check out the following…then go see it and come back because ahoy there be spoilers!


The Story
From After his wife and child are murdered by two criminals, Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is informed that one of the murderers will be sentenced to death but the other one will get off because of his cooperation with the police. Shelton decides to take justice in his own hands, including getting revenge on the murderers as well as those in the system responsible for setting the one murderer free. District Attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), one of those who helped set the murderer free, tries to stop Shelton.

As an amateur screenwriter aspiring to play in the big leagues sometime in the near future, I pay a lot of attention to the plot, character development, storylines and dialogue in movies. I walk out the theater and mull over certain parts of the movie again and again, eventually looking up the film’s writer, and that’s just what happened with this film.

I sat there in the theater, not wanting the film to end, and as soon as it did I wanted to see it again.

I’ve been thinking about this movie since I saw it a couple a weeks ago, determined to find out as much as I could about the story and the man who wrote it, Kurt Wimmer (who wrote and directed Ultraviolet among other things).


Great! Excellent pacing. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, DYING to see what would happen next and how Clyde would pull something off. There were moments when the audience was COMPLETELY taken by surprise (many gasps and shrieks throughout the theater) and moments where we knew that something was going to happen and somewhat knew what, but didn’t know when and were filled with suspense. The ending made me squee in my seat (no, not pee, but “squee” which is a noise).

I thought the story was great, but one plot hole (from A prison would have many solitary confinement cells. Clyde would not know which one he would be put in (later) while he was doing the tunnel and trap door beforehand…

Who is the audience supposed to root for? Clyde or Rice? Who’s really the villain in this story? The film leaves it up to the individual to decide.

My thoughts? Both Clyde and Rice had their good and bad moments, but in my heart of hearts the only villains I can see are the ones who broke in at the beginning of the movie, setting everything into motion.

The break-in and subsequent eradication of Clyde’s family steadily transforms him into the man we know by the end of the film, and you know what, I can’t blame him. It might also be the fact that I find his cleverness and smartassness entertaining as all get out. I mean, he was doing bad things—okay, VERY bad things, but I (and many others in the theater) couldn’t help but cheer him on and call out “Oh snap!” at the screen.

I feel like Rice didn’t get as much development in the movie, as it was more Clyde’s story. But we’re supposed to assume that the man who had to miss his daughter’s recital at the beginning of the film is changed by having his own family threatened because he is present at her recital in the end of the film. I think a lot more could have been done to reinforce his growing realization of how much his family means to him.


Don’t just take my word for it, go see it for yourself!


Entry filed under: COM 530- Theory & Analysis, COM 540- Interactive Writing & Design, movies. Tags: , , , , .

Flash on the TV??? Thoughts on Disney’s New Princess

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Me  |  March 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Well if you paid attention to the movie Clyde dug into every solitary confinement cell in the jail so he prepared for any cell he would have been put into. This movie has no flaws.

    • 2. kapil  |  February 22, 2014 at 1:47 am

      totally agreed.

  • 3. big baby davis  |  July 10, 2010 at 12:04 am

    There is a flaw actually. The accomplice to the murder who is put to death, Rupert Ames, is killed 10 years after his conviction. It would never take that long.

    Dont get me wrong, one of the best movies i’ve ever seen.

  • 5. krispy krunch  |  July 10, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Also Clyde says in his initial statement that he cut Darby’s toes off with a tin cutter first, but in the video you witness him cutting off his left leg first with a buzz-saw.

  • 6. Sanquin  |  August 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm


    I do see a flaw in the movie. Two actually. Clyde could basically do what he did, because he was put in a solitary confinement cell, and then NO ONE WATCHED HIM ANY MORE. He’s this dangerous, and he’s not under 24/7 watch? Yea right.

    Secondly, at the end he put the suitcase wide out in the open. Then, he watches the ones he’s going to bomb from a video feed. Think about it. He didn’t put a fail-safe on the bomb, or monitored the bomb, in case anyone found it. He left it completely alone. And this, from a guy that was 3 steps ahead of Foxx for half the movie, and is supposed to be a master strategist and assassin? Yea right…anyone planning a bomb assassination, would put a fail-safe in it, or at least make sure no one would find it.

    • 7. I AM THE FUTURE  |  June 16, 2016 at 11:06 am

      It’s an actaul little theory of mine that the dude wanted to die and figured that by now they would’ve found the tunnel and the bomb ect.

  • 8. Connor  |  August 11, 2011 at 2:00 am

    hey guys great comments love them.

  • 9. Connor  |  August 11, 2011 at 2:03 am

    lol jk

  • 10. Michelle  |  September 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    In response to Sanquin regarding Clyde not monitoring the bomb at the end of this Incredible movie. In my opinion Clyde’s plan of killing all involved was done. He never wanted to kill Foxx, just put him in power to be able to make a change, as far as the bomb,I thought the same thing. This guy was so precise in every plan he made how could he not monitor the most important kill of his revenge? Clyde was too smart to leave anything open by chance, he knew the bomb would most likely be his ending. Also ponder the fact that at the end, he made Foxx a murderer as well, for the greater good.

    • 11. BK  |  February 15, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      A point I’ve been making making for years – the cop and DA knowingly planted a live bomb in his cell! We are to assume that, at the very least, the DA will have lie about or not offer his involvement with the bomb in the cell. The movie was great until the end. The ending was supposed to be clever and was actually full of holes.

  • 12. skaapman  |  June 22, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I really liked this movie. It’s cool that the lines between protagonist and antagonist gets very blurry. Am I the only one who kind of wanted Butlers character to kill off Fox’s family? A bit harsh I know but it would have been justice.

  • 13. Liz  |  July 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    One of the best movies I’ve ever seen, Flaws or not, this movie was fantastic. The line between protagonist and antagonist is so thin that we eventually write off Shelton as our tragic hero, A must watch for anyone intelligent enough to understand.

  • 14. Compass  |  January 17, 2013 at 12:33 am

    This is one of my top favorite moves as well as one of my most hated.

    Everything in this movie is perfect for exactly the first 90 minutes. I sat on the edge of my seat this entire time wondering what was coming next. Shelton was determined to show that the system of justice really is screwed up.

    Then the movie goes to hell from there. It’s like the writer had to rush the plot at this point as well as have Rice “win the lottery” several times… one right after another.

    First, he receives a list of property sales amounts in the Philadelphia area over a 10 year time span. That list would have to be hundreds of pages long… with many of the values being identical. I mean, in a 10 year period, how many properties would not have sold for the same amount? And he matches up the one that happens to sit right next to the prison.

    Next, he decides to break into this property. Ok, I can give them this one… he is at the end of his rope grasping for straws. So him and the “typical cop” go inside… and what’s the first thing they notice? His old car. Sure, I would remember a car I saw for 30 seconds 10 years ago, but not remember the name of the guy who I put in prison for a grisly murder. So… What do they do first with this car? Hey, let’s lift it up! There must be something useful UNDER this car that I barely remember. Oh, what do you know… A HOLE! No Way! I just guessed!

    Number 3… He is at the court house doing his new janitorial job while all of this is going on. Wouldn’t he need his ID badge to get into the courthouse as well as his work schedule? Wait, he did have it with him. The courthouse was under tightened security. Hell, the guards even accosted the DA and the cop… people they would recognize. So the clue that told Rice where Shelton was at wouldn’t have been there to begin with.

    Now, they are on the way to the courthouse… and SHOULD be looking for Shelton… but no. They look for a bomb. And FIND it! Who would have guessed they would find a legal briefcase in a courthouse and find it suspicious. And they find it AS Shelton is leaving the courthouse. Then they make it back to the garage/prison before Shelton early enough to get in, lower the car back down and hide and get the bomb in place BEFORE Shelton even gets back to the garage… and nevermind that the garage door would have been a big mangled clue that someone else had been there.

    Again… the movie was great. But it seems to me that the writer was on a roll with the perfect plot and story, and then someone else jumped in and finished it in 20 minutes with Rice winning the day.

  • 15. Bruchgold verkaufen  |  June 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Right now it seems like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using
    on your blog?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


November 2009
« Oct   Feb »


JQ Tweets!

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: