Author Archives: markcostin

A Tame Version of “Saw”

The Film Law abiding citizen was directed by Gary Gray and is based off of the screenplay by Kurt Wimmer. Felix Gary Gray is most noted for two spectacular films of the past ten years; The Negotiator and The Italian Job (great actions flicks). First off I was expecting what I got out of this film in reference to climaxes of blood, action, and intense violence. Anyways, Jamie Foxx from Collateral and Gerard Butler from 300. Going to be awesome right? Wrong.  Clyde (Gerard Butler) witnesses his wife and young daughter’s murder by 2 accomplices who are caught. The issue now becomes the problem of the government. Ames is sent to death row, but the Jamie Foxes character claims that there was not enough evidence to convict both of them on counts of first degree murder. So here the fun begins. Clyde decides (like a million other movies) to take the “justice system” into his own hands and go after Darby and brutally torture him until he dies.   We can sense a feeling of revenge on Clydes part when he says “I’m gonna pull the whole thing down.  I’m gonna bring the whole fuckin’ diseased, corrupt temple down on your head. It’s gonna be biblical”.Although pretty generic in its approach, it does bring back the question of if it is ever appropriate for a citizen to take things like this into his own hands. Justice is not always done, but then that leaves the question of what would have happened if both accomplices were just sentenced to death row. Well it certainly wouldn’t make a good movie, but are the actions of this former federal defense agent justified? The movie is quite predictable, but is yet another film dealing with more philosophical issues regarding justified revenge. Is there such a thing? Clyde seems to think more along the line of just “blowing shit up” than actually taking a step back and thinking about things. Then again, his wife and kid were murdered. There seems to be elements of almost every city thriller in terms of the visual approach.

 Low angle shots and so forth are elements of every political conspiracy film I’ve seen. I apologize for pointing out most of the negative aspects of the film (other than the cool quote) but I just didn’t really get it. To leave on a good note, I think that F. Gary Gray seems to find great cinematographers.



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Like any other film, Dead Man Walking is constructed through several popular themes, motifs, and symbols that can be interpreted several different ways. Through out the film we notice Helen Prejean can be a representation of a underlying force which opposes actions such as the death penalty, or even the construction of a decision to take such action. Unfortunately the film does not incorporate several important aspects of Prejeans childhood like the book, but the structure is there for us to infer. Most importantly I think that through the film the viewers relationship with Poncelet tends to fluctuate in a positive direction. His reconciliation and mere justifications makes us look more so at the overall theme of death and whose responsible for it, apposed to his specific situation.
Helens initial intentions are to rid Poncelet of the death penalty, but keep him in jail for life. At the same time after frequent visits she begins to develop a relationship with him that is not understood by the victims families. After becoming more involved Helen wishes for the court to grant Poncelet a pardon. As time looms closer to Poncelet’s death he says “its quiet. Only three days left. Plenty of time to read my Bible and look for a loophole.” In the scene chosen Poncelet speaks to Helen reconciling and remembering the people who he holds closest. It’s a pivotal moment in the film because at this point a lot of viewers begin to feel a sense of remorse, even with prior knowledge of his wrong doing.

Poncolet makes an interesting statement when speaking of murder. He says “I just wanna say I think killin is wrong, no matter who does it, whether it’s me or yall or your government.” The underlying message being, is the rape and murder someone justified through the actions taken by government or anyone else for that matter, to kill as a means of justice or vengeance?


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