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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Law Abiding Citizen

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS)—"Vengeance is mine" has been a popular film theme through the years, almost always leaving out the crucial last three words of that quotation from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "says the Lord."

So in "Law Abiding Citizen" (Overture), when Gerard Butler's Clyde Shelton announces, while on a murderous rampage, "It's gonna be biblical," it's just one of many nonsensical bleats in this brutish fantasy about one man's search for "justice." Director F. Gary Gray and screenwriter Kurt Wimmer begin with an homage to the old hyper-violent "Death Wish" films and, after 90 minutes of gushing body parts, concoct an implausible ending that looks like it was borrowed from an old "Scooby-Doo" cartoon.

Shelton's rage begins when his wife and young daughter are murdered by two thugs in a home invasion. Justice in a Philadelphia court means a deal with the prosecution—one thug gets the death penalty but the other gets just five years in prison.

That's not good enough for Shelton, of course, but he's no ordinary revenge-seeker with a gun. He's a specialist in the dark art of killing terrorists, and takes out his anger not only on the criminals, but also on everyone in the court system, using all manner of devious technology—even from a prison cell.

Shelton makes a series of implausible "deals" with prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) to prevent more killings, but the strangely impassive Rice never gets there in time as Shelton gets ever more inventive.

The film contains a rape, explicit torture, gun and knife violence, explosions, rear male nudity, and pervasive crass and rough language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Jensen is a guest reviewer for the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

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