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Parents' Guide to

Law Abiding Citizen

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Violent vengeance thriller has lots of bloody brutality.

Movie R 2009 102 minutes
Law Abiding Citizen Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 16+

Plot Sinking Edgelordism

"There's about one humorous moment in the entire film, ""That's what wrenches are for, dumbass!"" The rest of the film takes itself way too seriously, but is still a slick action/thriller film. Ending was just awful. A big issue in the film and part of the reason why it's hard to take seriously is that the ""villain"" (more of an ""anti-villain"") relies on a masterplan that has way too many potential points of failure... And if it does fail, it's game over-no flexibility and virtually no room for error. The main plot was so inconceivable to the point of being totally ludicrous. This would be fine if the film wasn't so serious about itself, but it is... From the opening scenes right to the end. Accusations that this film is merely torture porn are misleading. Comparing this film to the likes of SAW is like comparing Teletubbies to The Human Centipede. While some scenes may make you squirm and cringe in anticipation, nothing all that graphic or prolonged is shown. If anything, it's very tame considering its subject matter. This isn't a criticism however, the action and death scenes are still entertaining without being needlessly exploitative. You can watch easily on a full stomach. Strong performances from both the main stars and lots of good lines, but the plot does them no *ahem* justice."
age 18+

21+ for rape, nudity, violence,

When they are going to arrest him, he is completely naked. No genitals seen. The reason that Gerard Butler is killing people is because a man raped and killed his wife. We do not see a rape scene, but it is implied. A woman is seen lying on a mattress, appearing to be asleep. She is wearing a thong and her butt is shown, but not in close-up. In a sequence, the main character removes all of his clothing, but the scene is dark, and only his bare chest and backside are shown. He is seen shirtless shortly after too, in bright light.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (16 ):

Ludicrous and over pumped, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is an overdone thriller that also has some real shocks and a couple of nasty surprises. Director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, The Negotiator) has the flash and enthusiasm to make this kind of film and the other diversions that have made up his career, but watching him flail for deeper meaning and social commentary is a bit of a strain. Foxx is decent and tortured; Butler is an appropriately regretful sociopath until the film's third act, when he has to kick the homicide up a notch to drive the film toward its climax.

As a new-millennium spin on films like Death Wish or Taxi Driver, Law Abiding Citizen works well when it keeps to the simple kinetic energy of the action; Clyde's machinations are just one step removed from the four-color outlandishness of a comic book evil genius. Gray assembles the bits and pieces of Kurt Wimmer's script with competent mechanics, but he falters when he tries to connect the action set pieces with a plot that makes sense or doesn't kick against the limits of plausibility. Law Abiding Citizen has its moments, but those moments don't have a movie.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 16, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: February 16, 2010
  • Cast: Colm Meaney , Gerard Butler , Jamie Foxx
  • Director: F. Gary Gray
  • Inclusion Information: Black directors, Black actors
  • Studio: Overture Films
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language
  • Last updated: April 5, 2023

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