Sunday, April 04, 2010

Review of Law Abiding Citizen

I rented Law Abiding Citizen. Redbox is wonderful! Hope you've caught on to $1 movie rentals by now.

The plot of the movie runs like this. In the opening scene, a man opens the door, and is attacked by two assailants with clubs. When his wife rushes in, to find out what is going on, she too is attacked. When both are tied and duct taped, one man pushes a knife into each, then rapes the wife as she dies. As the man is losing consciousness, his little girl walks in and one assailant says, "It's ok, kids love me" as he heads towards the little girl. The woman and little girl die. The man survives.

A career minded assistant prosecutor cuts a deal with the two killers, after a judge disallows some DNA evidence. One killer gets death while the other gets a very light prison term for ratting out his buddy. Fast forward ten years.

The prosecutor attends while the death sentence is carried out on the one killer. The other has by now been released. Something goes very very wrong when the third drug is administered. The inmate violently convulses and is in obvious agony for a couple of minutes, before finally dying.

Police believe the other killer must be involved and try to find him. Just before police arrive at his apartment, the man gets a strange phone call, alerting him to the imminent arrival of the police. He is directed in escape by the anonymous caller, who directs him to a police car, with officer inside, to hijack for escape. The killer takes the cop out, under an overpass, to kill him, being directed by the anonymous caller. The "cop" he is about to kill, turns around, to reveal he is on the phone, and the anonymous caller is him.

The killer tries to shoot, but the gun has no bullets and has already, via some small spikes on its handle, poisoned him with venom from puffer fish, that render him paralyzed but left with the ability to see, hear and feel everything. The cop is really the man whose wife and child were murdered. He takes him to a warehouse he owns, and systematically cuts off every appendage, including his eyelids, should he try to close his eyes while being tortured. He must watch his own tortured death, because the man has a mirror over him.

The man is immediately caught and jailed. And yet, he is in total control, while in jail, much to the consternation of those who were involved in the trial ten years earlier, killing all those involved and many other innocents, at will. The judge who dismissed DNA evidence is killed in her chambers, in front of the DA and assistant DA, when she answers her cell phone and it fires a bullet into her brain.

In the end, through property record searches, the DA, formerly the assistant DA, but the DA has by now been murdered and he has been promoted, it is found the man actually owns a warehouse right next to the prison. Before that, they had been warned by a spy, that the man worked as the brains behind spies, and specialized in tech devices to kill people when he is not present. The spy he worked with declares, in a Deep Throat like encounter, "If he wants you dead, you're dead." Then he runs off down the tunnel, trench coat flapping. Whatever.

A search of the warehouse by the prison reveals the man, in the ten years since his wife and daughter were murdered, tunneled in to every single cell in solitary, so no matter what cell he was placed in, he could come and go at will. He made sure he was in solitary by killing in extremely bloody fashion, his cell mate on the regular block.

The movie was ok, but didn't flow for me. In the end, I felt manipulated, like the crime at the beginning had to be contrived to justify then create the rest of the movie. Someone wanted to make a point about being soft on criminals and awkwardly carved out a movie plot to put his or her points to film.

I thought at one point the film was going to pretend to be futuristic or sci fi, even Batmanish, because of the outrageous accomplishments of a man behind bars, taking revenge on the people involved in the trial of the two men who killed his wife and daughter.

The very end is a satisfying turn, by the so far wimpy high win rate assistant prosecutor, who finally gets the up on this guy. But most of the movie is not satisfying or even witty enough, in the ways the imprisoned man takes his revenge out on those involved in the trial.

This is a very violent movie. The bloodiest scene is when the man repeatedly stabs his cell mate in the neck. Blood is sprayed everywhere. The second bloodiest scene is when the judge is shot from a cell phone gun.

Are we too soft on monsters who kill people and/or rape women and children?

When criminals invade another person's life, to satisfy their own wants, the effect on any survivors is devastating. No one has the right to come into another person's home, or to kill another person or to rape another person. I do think rape should be capital offense or no parole offense. But, there must be heavy burdens of proof for all crimes to be sure innocents are not victimized by the justice system. As for executions, I've always thought a bullet to the back of the head, when the criminal is not expecting it is the best approach.


  1. Executions ... when it is a cat, we say it was "put to sleep." Same thing. I still don't like it.

    As for the rest, well, there aren't all that many monsters in the real world, in my opinion. Just about anyone is capable of doing really horrific things under the right circumstances. In fact, I'd guess that most cruelty in the world is caused by ordinary everyday people.

    There are a percentage of sociopaths in the world - people who lack the ability to feel guilt or have a normal sense of fear. However, even THEY aren't monsters for the most part, either.

    I read somewhere that they are more likely to become police officers, firefighters and business executives; places where we seem to prefer having characters like that. Only a small percentage do things like become serial killers. The rest is mostly a product of fiction.

    Most murders are "crimes of passion" spur of the moment kind of things and there is no deterrent for that because they aren't planned.

    Anyway, I can't watch movies like this; I have too much of that PTSD thing going on. *sigh*

  2. I think you're right on these things. When people think it is acceptable to gang up on someone, or bully, or kill, like in Nazi Germany, the ordinary people join in. You think if we humans were so bad there would be far more serial killers. Instead, there aren't that many. I hate child rapists and killers though.

    That Eugene case, of that girl, tortured and abused by her own parents, until finally she was killed in such horrible fashion, the officials don't want to release the details, because it was so horrific, it just haunts me to think a child was suffering like that in her own home. Just really haunts me to think of child in such a situation. But would I want to or think we should torture to death, in vengence? No, because it makes us just as bad. Bullet to the back of the head, I guess, or lock them up forever. I am reluctant about the death penalty, because there have been too many innocent people convicted and condemned.

  3. I, too, am opposed to the death penalty. Even if we are one hundred percent sure of a rapist/murderer/serial killer's guilt, life in solitary behind bars, no toys or treats, can be more of a killer than a lethal injection.
    I absolutely detest child killers/abusers. Anyone who rapes a child should be castrated. But again, we need absolute proof so an innocent man isn't "unmanned".

    Bullet to the head approach is similar to china's executions.
    What Connie said about sociopaths is so true. I studied that quite extensively when a student of psychology because it fascinated me - the idea of someone with no conscious. I think she and I read the same book - often they become employees in law or power based occupations - a lawyer, a dentist, a cop. They are unaffected by pain - but know right from wrong in a cerebral fashion rather than thru their hearts. But - and a big butt - they need to be recognized from a very young age - these are the kids who torture animals to see their reactions. the kids who blatantly lie without regret or remorse. Early intervention is the key. When I started working for child protective services back two decades ago, in our training - the topic of "the bad seed" came up. A true tale was told to us - there was, at that time, a little girl - about 4 years old then - who was under constant supervision provided by the city - from a very young age she had tried to trip her parents while they were going down the steps, hurt a younger sibling time and again to see the baby's "reaction", repeatedly lied when confronted and showed no remorse or empathy when another was hurt due to her actions. Four years old then. But hopefully it turned out okay for her since they were providing early intervention.

  4. I met this grandpa along the river once, in Corvallis, with his grandson. They didn't know what to do with him, he confided. He was a meth baby, taken from his meth addicted daughter. They were raising him. He said the boy was off from the start, violently off. They were fishing along the river and had pulled out a fish. The little boy had been trying to poke its eye out, before the grandpa could get to him. The grandpa said in kindergarten the boy got mad and pushed a bookcase over on his teacher, breaking her leg. He said he and his wife were at wits end, and figured one day, he would kill them. He was just a little boy, about five years old, and his grandparents were terrified of him.

  5. You can't create what a kid lacks, I don't believe, from chemicals. So I don't know what intervention for a sociopath would be. Lock up, I guess, for life.

  6. No, you can't create what a kids lacks due to chemical abuse by his/her parents, but you can pattern and teach correct behavior - you need to find consequences that actually matter to a child sociopath and use those rather than systems of "rewards" for good behavior. Rewards can work well with kids who are "motivated" by inner desires to please, who want such things, etc., but not little sociopaths. Nothing actually "hurts" a sociopath - but there are things that might bother a child such as isolation and use that. It does no good to take "things" away because a kid like that will just steal what he wants without regret or find a way around things. You have to have a powerful motivator - for someone like that believe it or not a "negative consequence" can be something as simple as "You won't earn five dollars this week if you don't...." The thought of not getting something is more displeasing than anything.
    anyway, that kid sounded like a child sociopath to the hilt. Sometimes, unfortunately, institutionalization is all you can do with a kid like that. They will never understand the "whys" regarding behavior - why something is not a good thing to do, can hurt someone or something, etc. And if they are getting some malicious pleasure out of others pain, even worse.

  7. The grandfather seemed just resigned to it and depressed. I felt for him, but sure would not have wanted to be in his shoes. Hopefully things got better.