“Law Abiding Citizen”
 
Better arrive at this movie on time, because the first scene is very important.  Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is with his lovely daughter, who’s making him a bracelet that says “Daddy.”  The next thing we know, the whole family is brutally attacked, and Shelton , bound and gagged, is forced to watch as his wife is assaulted and his daughter is taken, and then he blacks out.  He wakes up to a different kind of nightmare, a Hell that never ends:  both his wife and daughter are dead, and the assistant DA, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) wants to cut a deal where one of the assailants turns evidence on the other, in exchange for a light sentence.  Shelton protests vigorously, to no avail.  The confident, ambitious Rice is all about winning percentage:  rate of conviction, that is.  It’s just good politics.
Fast-forward ten years.  Rice’s daughter is an accomplished cello player, but he doesn’t really have time to attend her concerts;  he’s busy racing along the career fast track, and Philadelphia is a very big stage.  Shelton seems to have disappeared.  One convicted thug has already been released, and the other will suffer the ultimate penalty.  But something goes terribly wrong with the execution.  And everything falls apart rapidly after that.  Shelton , it seems, has not been idle or absent, but has been planning an elaborate revenge on everybody involved in the case.  He’s gone and acquired expertise in secret ops, courtesy of the U.S. government, he’s an accomplished inventor and engineer, he’s acquired a secret fortune with considerable industrial land holdings, now mysteriously removed into a labyrinth of Panamanian non-regulations and offshore banking accounts.  Shelton is a man on a mission.  And he manages to wreak havoc from the prison to the courtroom to the police station all the way to City Hall.  He seems unstoppable in his ruthlessness.  < /SPAN>All that really opposes him, it seems, is the dogged resourcefulness of Nick Rice.
Watch with fascination as these two proud antagonists strive against each other while struggling with the law that binds both of them differently.  It’s a complex plot, but in the end, it boils down to the imperfect “good guy” versus the formerly-law-abiding-citizen “bad guy.”  It’s an old-fashioned crime drama with lots of twists, surprises, and even a couple of shocks along the way.  It’s not for the fainthearted.  But it is simply riveting.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas