Director F. Gary Gray's "LAW ABIDING CITIZEN," is now available on blu-ray and dvd from ANCHOR BAY/STARZ. Gerard Butler stars as Clyde Shelton, a man whose experience with the justice system is less than pleasant when one of the two men responsible for the brutal killings of his wife and daughter, is given a reduced sentence for testifying against the 2nd assailant. After the film jumps ahead 10 years, the assailant on death row, is finally executed, but something appears amiss when the lethal injection he's given is far more painful than planned. Soon after, the other assailant, now free, is brutally murdered. The man behind these killings: Clyde Shelton. But, Shelton isn't content at causing the demise of just these two men. Instead, he's out to teach a bigger lesson to those unwitting accomplices within the justice system, failing to use all means available to bring about true justice for victims of crimes, when focused only on pursuing only "easy" cases.
While the film's disappointing conclusion feels like a politically correct resolution, sacrificing the unpredictability of what makes most of the film entertaining, "LAW ABIDING CITIZEN" is still one of the bigger surprises of 2009. What could've easily been nothing more than a mediocre exploitation film, evoking memories of the worst of the "DEATH WISH" films, it's actually quite good, and consistently gripping. It's also fun to be rooting for the "bad guy," although it's easy to root for anyone up against Jamie Foxx(chewing up scenery whenever possible).
While Foxx isn't as bad as usual, he's still woefully miscast here. Butler, on the other hand, is terrific, and brings exactly the kind of depth necessary to bring about a complexity to his character, making him much more than a comic-book-like villain.
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for the AVC MPEG-4 1080p blu-ray and 16:9 enhanced dvd. Gray doesn't provide any of the visual acuity he's shown with his previous work. Nothing here stands out in terms of visual style in comparison to what he did with "BE COOL," however, the colors are solid and occasionally vibrant. Detail is impressive, never dull and even retained within the darkest scenes, thanks to inky blacks. However, the dvd lacks the contrast found on the blu-ray, bringing about some banding and less impressive blacks in scene-to-scene comparisons. As good as the image looks on blu-ray, this isn't a reference quality presentation. There are many scenes that appear flat, and the image, even when displaying terrific detail, seldom offers the kind of jump-from-the-screen depth one hopes for with the blu-ray format.
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray and standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd. While it's never aggressive, the level of surround involvement and discrete effects is perfect in creating just the right atmosphere necessary for the film's tension. Dialogue, music and effects are perfectly balanced here. While there are some guns-blazing moments, there are plenty of more nuanced ones too, and the immersive quality of this mix, makes for a fun experience. The lossy mix provides notably deeper bass than the dvd's standard Dolby Digital mix. Dynamic range is also more impressive on the lossy mix. However, both mixes are extremely engaging.
Both the theatrical and unrated director's cut(9 minutes longer)are presented on two separate discs within the blu-ray release. The extra footage does make for a tighter viewing experience. The dvd offers the director's cut by itself. There are plenty of extras offered on both formats, however, most of these are only offered in 1080i on blu-ray. The featurettes vary in quality. The trailers offered on the blu-ray are presented in full 1080p.