Quick Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

Here’s the brief pitch of Law Abiding Citizen: after his family gets killed and one of the murderers goes free for rolling over on the other one, crazy tactical genius Gerard Butler spends 10 years setting up traps and planning to take revenge on not only the killers but everyone involved who failed him in the prosecution of his family’s killers. It’s basically the story of a supervillain. And a damn good one at that because Butler plans for nearly everything. It turns out he worked for a government think tank that tasked him with developing ways to kill certain bad guys and he excelled like crazy. Everything he does has been planned out to the Nth degree and only thanks to his hubris does he get caught in the end.

But, like I said, it’s basically the story of how a supervillain became a supervillain. He’s got all the angles figured out, has all kinds of tech at his disposal and even a ton of warehouses that he uses as his secret lairs. All that being said, the movie does require quite a bit of belief suspension. There are a lot of dumb parts in the movie that don’t follow logic. Why doesn’t Jamie Foxx’s daughter turn off the DVD of a man getting tortured to death? Why do the cops aim their guns at the recently exploded car and not the direction that the rocket came from? Why doesn’t someone just shoot this guy in the face (especially considering the overly complicated ending which probably caused more collateral damage than Butler’s entire rampage.

That being said, I only found myself coming out of the story a few times with “what the?” moments, many of which are nit picky, but they are sloppy and should have been cleaned up. SPOILER WARNING I will say that I thought that Trick ‘r Treat and Iron Man’s Leslie Bibb was Butler’s man on the inside about 40 minutes before the movie ended. Then, not soon after, she died. It was a fiery car bomb death that I assumed was fake and kept on watching the movie because I hadn’t thought at that time that Butler would out-Prison Break Michael Scofield and he was really operating on his own. So, thanks to my paranoia, Bibb’s death held no emotional weight for me. Ah well, it’s not a home run, but it’s a fun little movie to watch when you’ve got some free time and want to see a Saw-like series of killings with a villain who’s got some interesting things to say.

Gamer Is Awesome

I was pretty excited about Gamer from the get go. Gerard Bulter playing an 80s-style bad ass running around shooting people and being controlled by some kid? SOLD! I didn’t realize until I got it from Netflix that the movie was actually written and directed by my favorite co-writing and -directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, that’s right, the brains behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage, two of the raddest movies to come out in…ever. And, damn, Gamer holds up to the same level as those two flicks.

Like I said, Butler plays a soldier being controlled by a kid in a giant real-life video game where real human are being controlled. The bad guy, played by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, has developed some science that allows people to be controlled. He invented the tech around a game called Society where people get paid to play as human avatars for gamers sitting in their houses. It’s like Sims, but with real people. Then, he created Slayers, which allows people to control death row inmates in a Halo-like game but without aliens, just other people. If you win a certain number of battles, you get set free. Whew, okay, that’s just the set up. There’s also this group called Humanz led by Ludacris who wants to reveal the truth behind Hall’s evil master plan (to control everyone in the world). They set it up so the kid playing Butler can actually talk to him and Butler breaks out, finds his wife and sets out to take Hall down (he also has Butler’s kid).

Butler’s as awesome as you would expect him to be. He’s got all the heft and badassery of an 80s action hero, but he’s also got a charisma and real acting chops the peek through the blood and grime. And boy, is this movie bloody. There are several big huge battles with Butler but one of 50 or so dudes running around, blasting holes in each other. People get blown up and tossed around and shot in the head. They really did a good job of capturing the weirdness of first person shooter games in the first few moments with all the craziness hitting you right away. Eventually, you get the jist of what’s going on and it goes on from there.

I also liked how the future in this game (it’s called “many years from this moment” or something like that) is portrayed. None of it really seems too far off, though I think people actually watching other people kill each other on television is much further away than writers seem to. I really liked the technology of the future. The kid controlling Butler goes to a small-ish circular room that’s covered in video screens displaying everything from his games to music to communications with other people, but when it’s game time, all that goes away and he’s miming the actions of his avatar in the game. It was all very cool.

If you’re a video game fan or even remotely like action movies, definitely check this one out, you won’t be sorry.

My New Favorite Recurring SNL Skit: What Up With That?

SNL has been pretty hit or miss this season, but we just saw a rerun of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I realized how much I love the Keenan Thompson-starring What Up With That? skits. They’re pretty simple and the same almost every time. Keenan is the host of a BET talk show. There’s always three guests, two of which are real celebs (not the hosts) playing themselves and then Bill Hader playing Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham. Keenan keeps breaking into song, getting inspired by whatever the first guest is talking about all the while, more and more people jump out dancing, singing or playing instruments. My favorite is Jason Sudekis who is always decked out in a red Adidas track suit and doing 80s hip hop moves. It’s fairly nonsensical, but it kills me every time. Here are all three skits available on Hulu in chronological order.

Of course, the very first clip actually ruins my above description because only James Franco plays himself in this one from October 17th which Gerard Butler hosted. This was the first one I ever saw and it killed me.

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Here’s the episode from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosted episode on November 21st. Al Gore and Mindy Kaling from The Office are the guests.

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This is actually the dress rehearsal from the episode that premiered on December 19th. This was the James Franco episode and the talkshow guests are Mike Tyson and 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer. I used the footage from the dress rehearsal because it has some sick dance movies by Tyson himself.

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