The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Overture Films - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 109/118 minutes
Genre: Crime thriller
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meany, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Michael Irby, Regina Hall
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Music by: Brian Tyler
Written by: Kurt Wimmer
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 16, 2010
"The system must pay"
Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is an upstanding family man whose wife and daughter were brutally murdered during a home invasion. When the killers are caught, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), a hotshot young Philadelphia prosecutor, is assigned to the case. Against his will, Nick is forced to offer one of the suspects a light sentence in exchange for testifying against his accomplice. Fast forward ten years. The man who got away with murder is found dead and Clyde Shelton coolly admits his guilt. Then he issues a warning to Nick: either fix the flawed justice system, or key players in the trail will die. Soon Shelton follows through on his threats, orchestrating from his jail cell a string of spectacularly diabolical assassinations that can be neither predicted nor prevented. Nick finds himself in a desperate race against time facing a deadly adversary who always seems to be one step ahead.
I had heard good things about Law abiding citizen and seeing as I like its headlining cast I went in with fairly high expectations. The film's opening is a little graphic but necessary to set up what is to come. There is no background provided on Clyde or his family prior to this so you have to hope that the connection will come later. The same is true of the two men that force their way into Clyde's home. Darby (Stolte) is clearly the ring leader and the worse of the two from what you can glean from the short opening segment. Things move forward and the two men have been arrested for the murder of Clyde's family. Prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx) has an unblemished record without ever having lost a case in court. He is under pressure to maintain that status and opts for a plea bargain with Darby in exchange for his testimony against his accomplice Ames. Clyde meets with Nick and expresses his desire that the case go to trial however Nick refuses stating that the burden of proof requires a settlement. The agreement is reached and Darby gets a minimal sentence while Ames goes to death row. It is obvious that Nick isn't fond of the outcome however pressures from within and time allow him to forget and move on. Unfortunately Clyde has not forgotten or moved on. Ten years goes by. Darby is out of prison and living the same putrid existence and Nick remains on top at work while his home life with his wife and daughter takes a back seat. Clyde resurfaces and those involved in his case, starting with Darby, beginning meeting grisly ends. Clyde doesn't hide the fact that he may, and I emphasis may, be involved which leads Nick and the cops to him. He is taken into custody and meets with Nick. Clyde makes it clear that in his opinion the justice system failed and corrections/adjustments need to be made. He implies that until they are bad things will continue to happen. Nick doesn't acquiesce and Clyde makes good on his promise.
To this point I felt that the film had built up a decent head of steam. Clyde was a sympathetic character with a worthy cause and the juice to back it up. Unfortunately the story takes a darker turn which derails Clyde's quest for justice and becomes more of one for vengeance even if that involved leveling the entire city. Convenience's all of the sudden become extreme and Clyde goes from sympathetic with a cause to callous with a penchant for blood. It then turns into this race against the clock good guy bad guy routine that just felt contrived. The ending is disappointing, conventional, and not consistent with the intelligence displayed by Clyde earlier in the film. I think that Law abiding citizen could have been much more had it stayed the course set by the first half. I would liked to have seen the Clyde character remain more the protagonist with a visceral edge rather than what he became. In spite of that I found the level of suspense, character interaction, and the performances by Butler, Foxx, and my main man Bruce McGill elevated this to an above average watch. Both the extended director's cut (which contains an additional ten minutes) and the theatrical cut are included. Each is on a separate BD50 with the extended version (which I evaluated) located on Disc 1 and the theatrical version on Disc 2.
The rating is for strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Law abiding citizen comes to Blu-ray Disc from Overture/Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.9 mbps.
This is a strong video presentation that is reflective of the type associated with newer release films on Blu-ray Disc. Colors appear accurate with a noticeably subdued palette that coincides with the dark subject matter. Skin tones are mildly affected by this but otherwise look fine. Images are rendered with excellent visual penetration, resolute sharpness and defining detail that is particularly striking during brighter sequences. Some of the darker scenes aren't quite as definitively resolved and appear less dimensionally convincing. Blacks are nice and deep with appreciable visibility in uneven light and shadows. Contrast is boosted slightly which overdrives some of the bright sequences. This wasn't damaging and in most instances wasn't an issue at all. There is a light veil of grain that gives the video noticeable texture but never infringes upon fidelity. I noticed one or two noisy backgrounds but this was minor and would probably be missed if not looking for it.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack did a great job in balancing the mix of dialogue and action based elements in the recording. I never had trouble discerning the soft spoken and interpreted dialogue used in the film. It was crystal clear and slightly forward in presentation which made it more readily discernible. Dynamic range was strong and explosions and gunfire had palpable impact and energy. This is predominantly a dialogue driven film however the surround platform is utilized to excellent effect during several action based sequences. This results in good quality sound that is both immersive and vigorous as it fills the room with a nice blend of deep bass energy and 360 degree surround quality.
- Disc 1:
- Extended Director's Cut of Law abiding citizen
- (HD) Featurettes:
- The justice of Law abiding citizen - 6 minutes
- Law in black and white: Behind the scenes - 15 minutes
- (HD) Preliminary arguments - Visual effects progressions (5 segments)
- (HD) The verdict - winning: trailer mash-up
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- BD Previews
- Disc 2:
- Theatrical Cut of Law abiding citizen
- Audio commentary - With producers Lucas Foster and Alan Siegel
Law abiding citizen is a thriller that features good performances and plenty of potential, unfortunately the strength of the plot wanes and leaves it feeling more ordinary than rewarding. It isn't without merit though and makes for a decent popcorn flick when you're in the mood. Its high definition debut on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay HE is a strong one that offers excellent imagery and engaging lossless surround sound. The inclusion of the theatrical and extended cuts is always appreciated. The remaining bonus features aren't especially comprehensive but do offer a glimpse into the making of the film and its production. If you are already a fan feel free to pick this up otherwise I would recommend a rental first.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package