Released in 2009, directed by F. Gary Gray, and penned by Kurt Wimmer, ‘Law Abiding Citizen,’ is a vigilante action thriller that sparked many debates about its ending.
The Film’s Premise
The film features a star-studded cast, including Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, who also co-produced the film. Unfolding in Philadelphia, it narrates the story of a man on a vengeful quest, not just against his family’s murderer but also against those in a corrupt criminal justice system. His intention is to eliminate anyone who supports this system.
Despite a worldwide box office success of $127.9 million, the film didn’t manage to appeal to the critics and received generally negative reviews. However, it still earned nominations for a Saturn Award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film and NAACP Image Awards for Foxx (Outstanding Actor) and Gray (Outstanding Directing).
Why The Ending is Disappointing?
‘Law Abiding Citizen’s plot revolves around a quest for vengeance and a critique of the justice system. It was initially successful with its suspense and drama. Butler’s portrayal of a cunning and relentless protagonist strikes a chord with us. He also allows us to empathize with his motives, despite the extreme nature of his actions.
This is particularly evident in the film’s first hour and a half, where the high-stakes drama and action are at their peak.
However, the ending of the ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ doesn’t give us the same thrill. The conclusion, which sees Jamie Foxx’s character reappear in the cell leading to Butler’s character’s demise, falls short of the film’s otherwise engaging narrative. This abrupt shift not only diverts from the tone of the movie but also fails to deliver a satisfying closure to the intense build-up.
Could Alternative Endings Save ‘Law Abiding Citizen’?
An alternative ending, where Butler’s character succeeds in his plan, or the film maintains its dark tone, could have elevated ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ to a higher status in the action thriller genre. So, the ending was a missed opportunity to make a more impactful statement about the flaws in the justice system and the nature of revenge.
In a Reddit thread, numerous Redditors agree with this and express their disappointment. They also suggest their own alternative endings where the film avoids the sudden character development shifts observed, especially in Foxx’s character.