Law Abiding Citizen 4K Ultra HD Review
Rating: 3 out of 5
An engineer with a secret past (Gerard Butler) goes on a bloody quest for revenge against the men who killed his family – and the members of the judicial system and prosecutor (Jamie Foxx) who failed to punish them. Also stars Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, and Colm Meaney. Directed by F. Gary Gray.
Law Abiding Citizen is an imaginative revenge tale wrapped up inside of a crime thriller. It’s got plenty of star-power, with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler going head-to-head in a story that’s so over-the-top, it will test your suspension of disbelief. But it is entertaining.
Under the direction of F. Gary Gray, the movie creates a fantastical, improbable story surrounding Clyde Shelton (Butler), who plays a game of cat-and-mouse with prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx), who gave a sweetheart deal to the man who killed his family. Clyde devises an elaborate plan to ensure that the killers not only pay for their crimes, but Nick and his colleagues pay for their misdeeds as well.
Clyde’s plan makes for a riveting premise, and while it certainly makes Law Abiding Citizen entertaining, the film takes a dark, and at times confusing, turn. While it is satisfying to see the killers of Clyde’s family get their gory due, when members of the judicial system begin to die by imaginative (and brutal) means, it isn’t quite so audience-friendly.
While Clyde’s elaborate revenge plan stretches the realm of believability, the real problem with the film is the moral ambiguity. Moviegoers want to root for someone, and initially, the film makes Butler’s character of Clyde a sympathetic character. However, when he begins killing Nick’s innocent colleagues, it obviously flips the script, and we are now expected to ditch our sympathy for him. Never mind that the character changes from meek and broken husband to crazed sociopath without any believable progression.
While it was certainly satisfying to see the murderers get their comeuppance, watching innocent people being killed by savage means (the cell phone bomb-to-the-head was amazing but disturbing) requires a certain bloodlust that undermines the sympathy the film has built. Then, just as the film convinces us to get behind Jamie Foxx’s character (who is a pretentious jerk), it expects to sympathize with Clyde again towards the end.
Had Clyde been portrayed as a cut-and-dried sociopath, and Nick as a more principled attorney who was unfairly targeted, the narrative would have been far more entertaining.
Thankfully, there are plenty of clever twists that keep it entertaining, even if the characters aren’t very appealing. Never mind that the various scenarios that Clyde cooks up to off Nick’s colleagues are far-fetched and test the suspension of disbelief – a rocket-firing robot is still freaking cool. There is an explanation as to how Clyde pulls it off, which helps, but it’s still best to not overthink it.
Law Abiding Citizen is too implausible to be taken seriously, but it is certainly inventive, and the combination of Foxx and Butler works well on screen. It is entertaining, although it may not be totally memorable.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer is solid for a film that is a decade old. The 4K disc offers Dolby Vision, so if you have a 4K player and television that support it, each scene is encoded to adjust the display settings to match the scenes. This provides a better overall picture, but unfortunately my TCL 4K set does not support the feature, so I cannot comment on the feature.
There is some noticeable grain, which is expected, but in some scenes, the grain is excessive to the point of distraction. For the most part, however, the image shows excellent detail, especially in the grays and blacks, a necessity considering much of the film takes place in low light and at night.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack features an excellent mix with a booming, satisfying bass and excellent channel separation. A 5.1 Dolby Digital track is available on the enclosed Blu-ray, but not the 4K disc.
The disc features a small batch of extras, but they do include a nice behind-the-scenes featurette.
The bonus features on the disc include:
“The Justice of Law Abiding Citizen” featurette. Producer Lucas Foster, director F. Gary Gray and real-life prosecutors discuss the legal issues brought to life in the film. Running Time: 6:14
“Law in Black and White – Behind the Scenes” featurette. This “making of” featurette, shot in black and white, documents the set as many of the movie’s key scenes are filmed. Running Time: 15:07
“Preliminary Arguments – Visual Effects Progressions” featurette. Producer Lucas Foster presents five scenes from the movie and how digital effects enhanced each shot. Scenes include “Execution,” “Snow Enhancement,” “Gun Injection,” “Finale – Prison Explosion,” and “Car Crash Pre-Vis.” Total Running Time: 6:45
“The Verdict-Winning Trailer Mash-Up.” A one-minute trailer for the film. Running Time: 1:05
Theatrical Trailer. Running Time: 2:32
Audio Commentary. Producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel discuss the film, and while there are some interesting insights offered up, it isn’t terribly interesting. It should be noted that the 4K disc packaging is incorrect when it states that the commentary is on the Blu-ray only – it is also available on the 4K disc.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, redeemable from services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. The code does not appear to provide a 4K digital copy as of yet. Recent Lionsgate 4K releases have only made a 4K digital copy available through FandangoNow, and not VUDU. Lionsgate movies do not port to the Movies Anywhere service.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Citizen is a fun ride, but not an especially memorable one
Law Abiding Citizen provides an interesting premise, but I expected something a bit more epic than what the film delivered. It is certainly watchable, but it isn’t quite as memorable as you would have hoped.
4K DISC SPECS
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Running Time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (Blu-ray only), Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Audio Commentary: Participants include producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel.