How strong is our correctional system? Does it really do what it was created to do? In Law Abiding Citizen, the cracks of the justice system are revealed and put to the test. Gerard Butler (Clyde Shelton), who is one of the lead roles, is the character that defies all odds and tests the correctional system.
In the beginning of the movie, Clyde was invaded in his own home by Clarence Darby and Rupert Ames. His wife and daughter were raped and murdered while he survived, but feeling hopeless and worthless as he was forced to watch. The culprits were caught, but with paying a price. Nice Rice (Jamie Foxx) was Clyde’s district attorney, who made a plea bargain with Darby to let him walk if he testified against Ames. As any normal person, Clyde was extremely furious because he wanted both men to pay for what they did to his family. When Clyde realized he was not going to get the justice he wanted, he decided to take it into his own hands.
No one was aware of Clyde’s capabilities he was trained to do the impossible, what some would call an “assassin.” Everything Clyde did from this point on were just very little details in his master plan. From start to finish, Clyde never looked back, trying to reveal to all the injustices in the correctional system.
It all began with Clyde getting his revenge on the two who killed his family, Ames and Darby. After Darby testified, Ames was given the death penalty. One would think it would be lethal injection, quick and painless, Clyde had other plans. He had switched out the usual barbiturate, muscle relaxers and potassium chloride and replaced it with more lethal, slow acting, and more painful poisons. Once this was done, he moved onto Darby, the one he really wanted to pay. Clyde lures Darby away into a field when Darby grabs Clyde gun but little does Darby know the gun is a trap. Clyde says “This… Tetrodotoxin. Should be nicely into your system by now. Isolated from the liver of a Caribbean Puffer Fish. So, it paralyzes you… and leaves all the other neurological functions perfectly intact. In other words, you can’t move… but you feel everything. It does absolutely nothing to blunt the pain… and you’re about to experience more of that, than you could ever fucking imagine. He was tortured slowly, and to make it worse, he was forced to watch. Clyde had left signs so that the police could trace it back to him. Yes, Clyde wanted to be put in jail.
Once detained, he was questioned by Rice and sends him on a crazy investigation he would never forget. Clyde plays psychological games with Rice and other officials for the rest of the movie. When Clyde is at his hearing, he tests the judge’s judgment on what should legally, morally and ethically be done with him. While there was no evidence linking Clyde to the murder, it was very clear that Clyde was the conspirer. Clyde threw a bunch of case numbers and some nonsense lines out to the judge and because he “seemed” to know what he was talking about she felt inclined to agree with him and let him free until substantial evidence was found against him. But that was not what Clyde wanted, he wanted to be in the jail, so he then called the judge out on her “lack of judgment” which got him right where he wanted to be.
Throughout the movie, events would happen that could not be explained. No one could figure out how Clyde was committing the crimes at hand and were unable to find anything linking another person to the crimes. Clyde was just pure genius throughout the movie.
The point he was trying to make to Rice and the other officials was that you must live with your choices in life and its consequences, good or bad. When Rice decided to make the plea bargain with Darby, despite Clyde’s wish, he had to live with knowing he let a guilty man walk. Clyde put Rice’s word to the test numerous times, to show that just giving your word is meaningless if you cannot keep it. Clyde felt that he needed to keep up these acts until he felt that Rice realized that keeping your word is more important to someone than just giving it to them for closure.
Everything was going right for Clyde until Rice and his associates dug deep and found someone who knows of Clyde and the type of work he did. After getting the insight into Clyde’s’ real life, they were able to break down his master plan. Clyde planned on blowing up the higher officials, such as the mayor, at a city meeting. Rice had foiled Clyde’s plan and placed the bomb in his room to make him chose his own fate.
After watching the movie, it shows that there are cracks in the correctional system. Even though we hold correctional officials on a higher pedestal, we must remember they are still humans. Yes the judge in the movie should not have been so naïve. Just because someone throws case numbers at you does not mean that he or she knows what they are talking about. Each circumstance should be taken into consideration and must be processed to decide what is the legal, ethical and moral thing to do. In addition, our legal system must realize that when you give someone your word it is held to a high standard. If you are unable to keep it then you are considered a liar. The best thing for one to do is not give a promise at all so that you do not provide someone with false hope or high expectations that may not be met.