It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Law Abiding Citizen" is a taut thriller about a serial killer in reverse: He's already in prison when he commits all but one of his many murders, and in solitary for most of that time. So the story is a locked-room mystery: How does he set up such elaborate kills? Does he have an accomplice outside the walls, or what?
Jamie Foxx stars as Nick, the Philadelphia district attorney, and Gerald Butler is Clyde, the ingenious killer. Clyde begins the film as a loving husband and father, but then his wife and daughter are savagely murdered. Nick arranges a plea bargain: One of the guilty men will be executed; the other, in return for his testimony, will get a murder conviction but not death.
Clyde can't believe this. He saw his family murdered. Both men are guilty. On this everyone agrees. Why is one allowed to live? Because, Nick explains, the case isn't airtight without the testimony, and if they lose, both men walk free. That's not good enough for Clyde, who has 10 years to plot, plan and simmer in his hatred. That's the prologue. I won't go into detail about what happens next, except to observe that Clyde's first killing involves his penetration of the Death Row execution chamber itself -- and that's before he's in prison. Is this guy Houdini, or does he have supernatural powers?
As his methods are uncovered, it's clear he's a non-magical human being, but a clever one with remarkable resources. So remarkable, in fact, that they fly in the face of common sense. Movie supervillains have a way of correctly predicting what everyone will do and making their plans on that basis. The explanation of Clyde's methods is preposterous, but it comes late enough that F. Gary Gray, the director, is first able to generate considerable suspense and a sense of dread.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
Chaz Ebert highlights films with the potential to get us through the confusing political times of the Trump presidenc...
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
One of the most audacious American films from the 1960s is now available via the Criterion Collection.