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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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Benedict Joseph Labre: Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. 
<p>He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." </p><p>On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. </p><p>He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1881.</p> American Catholic Blog Today offers limitless possibilities for holiness. Lean into His grace. The only thing keeping us from sainthood is ourselves.

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