Law Abiding Cinema

Did you know dear reader(s) that there are laws in cinema?  Shocking I know but it is true.  There are just some things you cannot do (without being punished) and some things that need to be a very specific way in movie land.  “What are these things?!?” I hear you cry, well here are a few of them:

  1. All bed sheets in movie land are L shaped.  Long on her side short on his.
  2. The Good Guy/Gal must always win (in the end).
  3. Female genitalia is ok, male genitalia is forbidden.
  4. The MPAA has at least one priest that helps to determine a film’s rating.
  5. The truer the subject matter the less people care.

Why should you care about any of these facts?  Well, you should because with what is listed above some movies will suffer an ignominious death on the shoals of anonymity for violating some part of the Code of Movie Laws.  Additionally there are some movies that flirt with violating these laws which makes them very interesting (at least to me) and then just as they start to cross the Rubicon they swerve away and go from interesting to dull, lifeless and entirely to predictable.  Such is the case of Law Abiding Citizen…

Ok dear reader let us imagine for a moment that you are a mind bogglingly brilliant person, someone who has turned their brilliance to inventing all sorts of incredibly useful gadgets.  A genius’s genius, someone who if they put their mind to something could literally move a mountain.  Now imagine that you are working at home (not to mention male just in case any of the three people who read this blog are of the womanly variety) and there is a knock at the door.  You ask your beautiful daughter to go clean up as your darling wife announces that dinner is almost ready and go to answer the door.  Instead of your friendly neighbor Ezekiel coming to return the compound longbow that he borrowed to hunt gophers you meet Mr. Bat.

Mr. Bat is used to knock the shit out of you.  When you awaken you find that you have had your hands cable-tied together and duct tape has been put over your mouth.  Which makes me wonder is there nothing that duct tape is not useful for?  Seriously think about it.

Need to restrain someone?

Answer: duct tape.

Need to restrain a struggling child?

Answer: duct tape.

Significant other just won’t shut the fuck up?

Answer: duct  tape!

And the bad men who have tied you up stab you in the gut and proceed to rape and murder your family.  Of no surprise to anyone a deal is made so that one goes to jail for a few years and after making a deal to testify against his companion.  Of course the one that got the deal is the one responsible for the actual rape and murder the other?  Well he gets the death penalty. C’est la vie.

Dear reader, in truth I have had a lot of trouble writing this review as the movie itself is totally predictable since it stubbornly will not violate any of the Laws of Cinema. There really just isn’t anything to redeem this movie.  The main character (our widower) is a super genius who has a burning passion for revenge. On top of that he had ten years, let me repeat that for the deaf among you,


to plan your revenge.  Every last little detail; how you would torture the killer, your confession to the authorities, how in the end to take down the whole system because you know that the system will do and that the whole thing is broken.  But here we run into a problem, for this whole plan to work you have to be the good guy and in this movie you aren’t.  You have become the bad guy and your entire plan revolves around the fact that you have moved all of your businesses to Panama where supposedly your business transactions are unavailable to American authorities especially the D.A. who made the deal with the man who killed your family.

For a super genius this is a pretty stupid thing to hang your entire plan on, additionally not planning on the fact that the D.A. actually getting that information is also really stupid.  You create this involved and elaborate plan to extract  your revenge and you assume that you are totally bullet proof? Wow… you may as well just shoot yourself in face now.

So, you kill the killers, the Po-Po discover that you are behind it and you dangle the hope that you will give a full confession as long as you get an adjustable mattress and a nice meal from a fancy restaurant before 1:00 PM.  Being the incredible genius that you are you have of course anticipated that this will not happen and the authorities arrive to late and find the lawyer of the men who killed your family dead in a box that you buried a few days before.  The kicker of course being that you programmed his oxygen to shutoff at 1:00 PM and if they had gotten your food to you on time he would not be dead.  On top of that you have also arrange for the judge who presided over the trial of your family murderers to get a bullet through the face from her cellphone.  The cherry of that sundae of suck being that she gets it in front of the D.A. who made the original deal.

Of course your whole plan also depends on your being sent into solitary confinement so to do this you murder your cellmate.  How do you murder your cellmate?  Well you use the tools you have available, in this case the bone from your t-bone steak.  Kind of classy touch in retrospect but it does mean that you are now covered in arterial spray.  Well if it gets you what you want I guess it can’t be too bad.

Now why would anyone want to intentionally be sent into solitary?  I hear you ask.  Well it is because part of your plan means you need to be outside the prison walls and this means you had to tunnel into each solitary confinement cell so that you could build a hidden access door oh and this also means you needed to buy some commercial property near the prison so you could come and go unnoticed.

What else is in your little bag of tricks?  Well you demand that the D.A. let you go and drop all charges before morning or you will kill more people. predictably he refuses and calls in his entire office to tear apart your life they of course setup shop in the prison.  What is your plan?  Well you wired all of their cars to explode the moment someone leaves the prison grounds (invisible dog fence yo) which turned on at 6:00 AM that next morning.  Sadly more lawyers die… and the D.A. is really out to get you now.

You kill his boss just after the funeral for all of the dead lawyers.  The D.A. of course manages to identify properly that you bought despite the fact that you moved all of your business records to Panama and they unravel your entire plan.  They figure out that you tunneled into prison, that you have been able to leave whenever you want to and that you have also scored a job cleaning the Governors mansion.  In your crusade to destroy the system you have come up with the really cool plan to blow up most of the people responsible for Governing the state of Massachusetts.  Since the D.A. and the Po Po have tumbled to your plan they find the bomb you left and manage to remove it from the building and to leave it as a little present in your cell.  After a little power play between you and the D.A. (who was waiting in your cell) you basically tell him to fuck off and dial your bomb.  He runs away and you die.

Now if you were really that fucking smart, why didn’t you assume they would find your records?  Why didn’t you oh I don’t know expect them to figure everything out and put a device that would set off the bomb if someone moved the fucking thing after you armed it?

These are easy questions to answer.  Do you want the answer kiddies?  Well that is because you aren’t the good guy.  Remember, the American movie going audience doesn’t like it when the bad guy wins.  So the writers had to put in an easy out for the good guys.  You had to assume they would never be smart enough to get your business records and that they wouldn’t ever be smart enough to figure out your plan because the bad guy (even if he is actually right) can never EVER win.  Why?  Because that would lead audiences to remember the real world.

Answer: duct tape.

Need to seal over a bullet wound?

Answer: duct tape.

Significant other won’t shut the fuck up?

Answer: duct tape!

You and your wife get stabbed and one of the robbers takes your daughter into another room and well you can imagine what happens then.  Sadly your wife and daughter die but you survive to see justice done.  Only the D.A. in charge of the case has made a deal with the one of the robbers to testify against the other.  The one that made the deal and turned on his partner gets a great deal, 5 years in prison while the other gets the death penalty.  The D.A. sits down with you and explains that the case is weak and this is the only way to get a conviction.  You try to reason with him and explain that the one getting the deal is the one who stabbed you and is also the one that killed your family.  But alas your cries fall on deaf ears the deal is made.

Now you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with the title of this damn post.  Well dear reader it has to do with the fact that most movie going audiences do not want to see the bad guy(s) win.  It seems that to the average person it is inconceivable that the villain could ever win (unlike real life).  So it has become a Law of the Cinema that the bad guy does not win.  This is an important fact to remember, now back to our main character…

Ten years has passed.  You used to be an inventory of sorts acquiring several patents enough that you could live very comfortably with your family until the incident that is.  In the ten years you have turned your powers to solving knotty problems for the government.  Problems that do not get talked about, you have figured out clever ways to kill people using very clever devises and now is your moment of revenge.

The bad guy on death row is finally ready to meet his destiny the time has come to walk the green mile.  However you have something to say about that, using your clever abilities you manage to replace the drugs for the lethal injector with something a bit more interesting.  Instead of a gentle shuffling of the mortal coil he leaves this world screaming in agony.  A cruel exit to be certain but certainly an understandable one.

For the bad man that was responsible for the death of your family you have something even nastier in mind.  After escaping from the police (with your help of course) you paralyze him with some puffer fish poison and then proceed to carve him into smaller pieces.  Retaining your sense of the macabre you videotape your special time with the bad guy as you butcher him into twenty-five separate pieces.