Stars are important. Despite their supposedly waning influence on box office (Avatar managed perfectly well without a marquee name and Bruce Willis hasn’t carried a hit film in years) the charisma of a leading man is still a key factor in how we much we enjoy our escapism.
Exhibit A is the inexplicable success of Gerard Butler. Despite an unpleasant on- screen persona that mostly oozes brutishness and condescension he continues to rate well with certain target markets and, as a result I still have to watch his films. The latest is a repellent revenge fantasy called Law Abiding Citizen in which Butler gets to smirk his way through several remote-control murders while supposedly locked away in solitary confinement. How does he do it, we are supposed to ask.
Butler is Clyde Shelton, an inventor and family man whose family is randomly targeted by two low-life home invaders. They kill his wife and child (but inexplicably leave him alive as a witness) but hot shot Assistant DA (Jamie Foxx) is worried about his win-loss ratio and cuts a deal that saves one of the perps from Death Row. Shelton is upset about the supposed lack of justice and hatches an eight year plot to teach everyone involved (including the entire Philadelphia city administration and the Pennsylvania justice system) a lesson.