Law Abiding Citizen Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews Law Abiding Citizen, a thriller about a frustrated man who decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family’s killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

80

Details:

Studio and Year: Overture/Lionsgate – 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, English, 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

Release Date: November 6, 2018

“The System Must Pay”

My Take:

I previously reviewed Law Abiding Citizen on Blu-ray and have included my earlier comments here. Ratings for film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to the original. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound are below.

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 trial 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 like 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.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 74
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 74
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
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Law Abiding Citizen comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Law Abiding citizen was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

In looking at Law Abiding Citizen, I found its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was reminiscent of my impressions of several catalog releases on UHD. It’s a contemporary film that adheres to sepia tones and color grading, which ultimately leaves some sequences appearing less visually engaging than others. In looking at the opening moments the first thing that struck me was that there wasn’t an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features and clothing but this predominantly came during close ups. On occasion, discernible improvements in depth could be seen in wide-angle shots such as those taking place on the streets of Philadelphia, or within the prison but, in most respects, I saw little difference in apparent resolution when checking select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray.

I also found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark. The image didn’t make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. In general, the image appeared to be middle of the road, when compared to the better Ultra HD presentations I have seen. I wouldn’t describe it as poor quality, but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that left an impression on me.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Law Abiding Citizen, I found the HDR rendering to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t consistently lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the less aggressive variety, but considering the source material that’s not a complete surprise. Its use of audio objects placed above is limited to atmospherics and occasional panning fills. This is done to good effect when implemented. Examples can be found during the Clyde’s arrest at the abandoned factory, and during several of the more active scenes within the prison. The music score is subtly mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements without drawing attention away from the thematic details of what is transpiring onscreen. While this mix doesn’t make constant use of discretely placed audio objects, I found myself involved when it mattered and found this to be an enjoyable audio presentation.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Law Abiding Citizen Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Law Abiding Citizen (Theatrical Cut) Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Features
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

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. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring fair, but unremarkable Ultra HD image quality, complimentary Dolby Atmos surround sound, and a middling supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. Depending on how big a fan you are Law Abiding Citizen may or may not be worth the upgrade to Ultra HD Blu-ray. Perhaps a rental is a good place to start.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems