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The Covenant


To Live and Die in L.A


National Lampoon's Vacation

Evil Dead Rise

Law Abiding Citizen


  • Theatrical Version
  • Unrated Director's Cut
Release: Aug 26, 2015 - Author: Il Gobbo - Translator: ManfredR - external link: IMDB

"You can't fight fate"

Clyde Shelton is a deeply contended man with a beautiful home, a lovingly wife and a gorgeous daughter. His life definitely goes smoothly … until that night when Darby & Ames burst into his home, hurting him bad, rape and kill his wife and then slay his daughter. District attorney Nick Rice also lives on the sunny side of life. In his job being number one and he’s still climbing up the greasy pole fast. He also is contended because his pregnant wife who loves him is waiting for him. They both meet each other at court for the first time. Rice as mainly responsible prosecuting counsel in the Shelton Case comes to a decision of serious consequences: he makes a deal with Darby the principle offender. This one gets free after some years, his accomplice Ames – rather a fellow traveler – gets sent to death row. And all this happens against Shelton’s wishes who sure know that Darby is the actual rapist and murder. The American justice system operates with dodges and so Shelton’s wishes are ignored. But they will meet again 10 years later….

"I'm a law-abiding citizen. I'm just a regular guy."

Revenge thrillers are in vogue…see TAKEN which has been very successful at the box office. Not quite so successful, but anyway with a suitable box-office result LAW ABIDING CITIZEN has been played in US movie theatres. If one ignores the weaknesses ( no special detailed character drawings, all people stereotyped, offhanded explanations what Shelton does for job and why he’s such a fantastic maneuverer, non-stop logical errors I don’t go particular in to avoid Spoiler, and so on) the unambitious genre-fan gets well entertained. Responsible for that are mainly the two leading actors Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx, indeed unglamorous but solid and Gerard Butler who is anyway the shooting star of the US movie theatres. In some moments both can indicate their high potential and create spectacular scenes. Director F. Gary Gray is also known for his authority. With FRIDAY, he created a humorous debut, with SET IT OFF one year later he created one of the most wanted cult thrillers. But also THE NEGOTIATOR or THE ITALIAN JOB is really perfect mainstream entertainment. Okay, let’s draw a veil of silence over BE COOL and EXTREME RAGE. The man behind the script is Kurt Wimmer and for deep-rooted fans always worth al glance. Besides pretty well novel adaption (STREET KING or SPHERE) he reached cult status with his three directing master pieces. Was his debut ONE TOUGH BASTARD an uncompromising revenge thriller (Aha!) considered as the best Brian Bosworth flick, his next movie EQUILIBRIUM meanwhile has captured a worldwide fan community. Among other things it has been the creation of the fictive fighting technique "Gun-Kata", which mixes stylish martial arts elements together with gun and thrusting weapons and has been deployed in his last directing movie ULTRAVIOLET. Added are as well top class people in his crew: Director of photography Jonathan Sela (MAX PAYNE / MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN), Composer Brian Tyler (JOHN RAMBO / FINAL DESTINATION 4 / EAGLE EYE) or Editor Tariq Anwar, who was nominated for Oscar in 1999 for AMERICAN BEAUTY. All in all this makes an upscale entertaining, partly rough thriller.

"I'm gonna pull the whole thing down. It's gonna be Biblical."

In times of the inflationary usage of the word "Director's Cut" LAW ABIDING CITIZEN has also got an alternative version besides the theatrical one. And that’s exactly the point where the opinions differ. For the ones (including the author of this report) the result is to tear one’s hair – just at that moment when you try to record the cuts. Most minimal changes in the settings, different cuts and featureless – because they are not at all necessary for the understanding or even majoring the characters – plot extensions determine at 90% the result. On the other hand – and that will be the focus of the other party – almost all violent scenes have been extended. But, this will only catch one’s eye in the directly comparison and won’t get dawn on the audience. An exception is Darby’s murder where more blood and a disembodied head is shown. And possibly the murder in the cell because there have been inserted one or two close-up views in the theatrical version. These are about 15 seconds in total which get lost in the shuffle. The level of roughness is basically equal especially in the just mentioned example. And with an extension of about 10 minutes everybody has to make up his own mind how that justifies the exclusively in the USA released Blue-Ray Disk. Compared has been the rated-R theatrical version (DVD, Anchor Bay) with the unrated Director’s cut (Blue-Ray, Anchor Bay) featuring the following differences:
1:44 Min.
Shelton‘s wife gets another punch into her face.
( 20 SF )

1:55 Min.
After the second black frame the following rape scene is cut different, whereas the Director’s cut is running a little longer and features lightly vicious plots.
Theatrical version = 4 seconds / Director’s cut = 11 seconds
Total difference: ( 7 sec. )
Directors Cut:Theatrical version:

2:14 Min.
After the arrival of his daughter the scene of Darby starts earlier.
( 1 sec. )

2:29 Min.
When Darby carries Heather off, both versions are again cut different where the Director’s cut features one more plot and therefore runs a little longer.
Theatrical version = 8 seconds / Director’s cut = 9 seconds
Total difference: ( 1 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

2:45 Min.
The first shot around the statue is running longer in the Director’s cut.
( 3 sec. )

2:51 Min.
Also the second tracking-shot runs longer at the end.
( 2 sec. )

2:56 Min.
And guess what…even the third one runs longer too.
( 2 sec. )

5:13 Min.
The meeting between Shelton and Nick in the office is also running a little longer in the Director’s cut and even comes up with some additional dialogs. Nick comes in and both welcome each other. Nick: "How are you doing?" Shelton: "Good. How are you doing?" Nick: "Good. Sit. sit."
Shelton takes a seat: "Well, I didn't hear back from you and made some notes on the case. I had some good ideas." Nick: "Yeah, let me take a look at it." Shelton reaches him the note: "Well, they're just... I was gonna talk to you about those."
( 29 sec. )

5:13 Min.
When both versions synchronize again with Nick’s question "Do you trust me?" this is only due to continuity reasons in alternative settings where there is no worth mentioning runtime difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

7:29 Min.
At the court room, in reply of the judge’s question if the defense has any objections, attorney Reynolds does a joke: "I'm a defense attorney, Your Honor. I don't have many of those."
( 5.5 sec. )

9:47 Min.
The scene in front of the court building has been alternatively cut. While the theatrical version comes up earlier with the take of Nick and (Chef) and also features an insert cut of Shelton, there is a tracking shot onto Shelton in the Director’s cut. The Director’s cut in total runs longer.
Theatrical version = 9 seconds / Director’s cut = 10 seconds
Total difference: ( 1 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

10:14 Min.
Two additional takes when Nick comes back home.
( 7 sec. )

11:44 Min.
An alternative take of Nick biting in his French toast – because only in the Director’s cut there is subsequently another dialog as well as other takes.
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

11:45 Min.
An additional dialog, Nick: "I'm just gonna take this whole plate to work." Denise: "All right- no." Nick: "You're only 10 years old?"
( 4.5 sec. )

12:05 Min.
A little alternative cut where Nick furthermore suggests "She understands". Therefore the Director’s cut runs a little longer.
( 1.5 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

13:51 Min.
When Ames gets the needle in his vein there are three takes in the Director’s cut but only one alternative one in the theatrical version.
( 6 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

13:58 Min.
Reynolds admires Sarah’s legs. But only in the Director’s cut there is her answer "Fuck off". Due to continuity reasons the following question of Nick has been shot different (sorry no images this time)
( 2.5 sec.)

14:06 Min.
Reynolds responds to Nick’s question what he’s doing there in both versions equal at the beginning that Ames didn’t have a family and that at least one should be there. Nick’s answer varies. In the theatrical version: "You just getting a little press?", in the Director’s cut: "Wow, that's nice!" and all filmed a little different. There is no worth mentioning running time difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

14:15 Min.
Nevertheless only in the theatrical version there is one shot where the curtain in front of Ames is pulled away. Therefore the curtain starts earlier by Nick’s daughter. In total the theatrical version runs some single frames longer.
Theatrical version = +( 17 SF. )

Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

14:19 Min.
An additional shot of Denise in the Director’s cut.
( 2 sec. )

14:29 Min.
From now on it has been also completely different cut. I let the below-mentioned images talk for themselves but the dialogs here. In the Director’s cut the warden asks Ames: "Rupert Ames, do you have anything want to say?" Ames: "Yeah. Uhuh. What I did that night was wrong."
In the theatrical version Ames voiceover in the last take of the assembly hall: "What I did out there was wrong."
All further dialogs are identical but provided with different shots.
Theatrical version = 25.5 seconds / Director’s cut = 39 seconds
Total difference: ( 13.5 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

15:08 Min.
Again it has been cut different.
Theatrical version = 14.5 seconds / Director’s cut = 23.5 seconds
Total difference: ( 9 sec. )
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

15:21 Min.
Again there are two alternative shots after the first piston has been pressed down but no worth mentioning running time difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

15:40 Min.
You’re right! Here again it has been cut alternatively.
Theatrical version = 17.5 seconds / Director’s cut = 18.5 seconds
Total difference: ( 1 sec. )
Director’s Cut:Theatrical version:

16:00 Min.
When Ames convulsive struggles on the table there are two counter-cuts onto Denise in the Director’s cut, whereas she is flinching longer in the theatrical version. But in total the Director’s cut runs some single frames longer.
( 14 SF )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

16.06 Min.
There is different frame material and the Director’s cut runs a little longer.
( 1 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

16:10 Min.
Two additional takes in the Director’s cut.
( 2 sec. )

16:15 Min.
There are again two insert cuts onto Denise.
( 1.5 sec. )

16:29 Min.
At Ames death only the Director’s cut shows the ending of the assembly hall.
( 11.5 sec. )

24:28 Min.
While the shot right through the camera lens runs longer in the Director’s cut, only the theatrical version has three alternative takes. But there is no noteworthy running time difference.
Director‘s Cut:Theatrical version:

24:44 Min.
The close-up view of the buzz saw cutting in Darby’s leg has been differently filmed in both versions whereas the Director’s cut runs longer and shows more blood.
( 1 sec. )
Director‘s Cut:Theatrical version:

24:51 Min.
The pan-shot of the bird’s eye perspective starts earlier in the Director’s cut. In the theatrical version not until the wound disappears at the lower edge of the screen.
( 3 sec. )

26:12 Min.
When Darby’s dead body is found the Director’s cut runs a little longer interrupted by an insert-cut onto the disembodied head.
Theatrical version = 3 seconds / Director’s cut = 9.5 seconds
Total difference: ( 6.5 sec. )
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

37:37 Min.
Shelton’s jail cell neighbor still deems "I'd watch my fucking back around here, you hear?" right before they are locked in the cell. Guard: "In the cell, let's go."
( 8 sec. )

38:59 Min.
In the Director’s cut Nick and his wife confess their love in two more additional takes: "I love you." "I love you too."
( 7.5 sec. )

47:59 Min.
The shot with the helicopter runs a little longer in the Director’s cut.
( 2.5 sec. )

50:38 Min.
Shelton gets up in his cell a stabbing weapon in his hand. The theatrical version shows a close-up view from a fellow prisoner before whereas the Director’s cut remains in a medium long shot. There is no running time difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

50:42 Min.
The stabbing weapon changes hand and again the Director’s cut remains in the same shot, the theatrical version shows again a close-up view from a fellow prisoner.
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

51:00 Min.
The Murder has been minimally cut different, whereas the theatrical version features some close-up views of Shelton’s and the fellow prisoner’s face. In the Director’s cut the camera remains in the complete view. The cruelty level is about the same.
Theatrical version = 14.5 seconds / Director’s cut = 16 seconds
Total difference: ( 1.5 sec. )
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

52:51 Min.
Only in the Director’s cut there is one short sequence where the remains of the iPod are analyzed as well as a short dialog between Dunnigan and Garza.
Garza: "How are we doing?"
Dunnigan: "Great. Can you believe this? Checking his iPod for clues I do the same thing with my daughter's."
Garza: "Learn anything?"

Dunnigan: "Yeah, they both got shit taste in music."
Garza: (laughing) "We got a game plan with this guy or what?"
Dunnigan: "Game plan? I tell you, I got a game plan. Give me five minutes alone with him and I'll cripple the fucker. I don't give a shit what happened to his family. It's no excuse."
Garza: (looking inside the cell):
Then there is a change, Shelton is being led into segregation and gets a Cop’s command: "Stop right there." The cell gets unlocked and then the Cop: "Step into the cell."
( 78 sec. )

52:52 Min.
When Shelton enters the cell there is alternative frame material in both versions. In the theatrical version there is a frontal close view and in the Director’s cut there is a long-shot from the Back. The running time is just about identical.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

53:05 Min.
Only in the theatrical version the scene with the walking away guards runs a little longer.
Theatrical Version: +( 1 sec. )

53:18 Min.
Oh well, Nick walks through the corridor and this plot starts earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 3 sec. )

60:18 Min.
After Judge Burch murder there is only in the Director’s cut a short sequence of the shocked staff members from the office of the district attorney. Already in the last take of the dead body a TV reporter starts talking from the off. Then a change on TV, the crime scene is investigated.
Reporter: " city hall, though we are unable to confirm the details, we do know that at least one person is dead in what officials are calling a possible murder. We have reporters on the ground...."
Nick comes along and takes a seat beside Jonas.
Nick: "Somebody's helping this guy - a bomb in that phone, and she doesn't know about it. Who had access? (towards Jonas) Are you okay?"
Jonas: "I've survived the war and two ex-wives. I'll be fine."
Sarah also joins them, Nick: "How are you holding up?"
Sarah: "I'm good."
( 33 sec. )

65:09 Min.
Sarah asks Nick if he cares for some coffee but Nick denies.
( 4.5 sec. )

67:31 Min.
Shortly before the explosion of Sarah’s car both versions are cut different whereas the Director’s cut runs a little longer.
( 2.5 Sek. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

70:33 Min.
An additional sequence when Nick informs his family at home of their plan taking a vacation.
Denise: "Dad? I bet you don't remember when I did that."
Nick: "I bet you I do."
Nick and Elaine facing each other, the tension is perceptible.
Denise: "What?"
Nick: "Nothing. You and your mother are going away on a little vacation, that's all. You like vacations, right?"
Denise: "Yeah, but why?"
Nick: "Uhm, why not now? Don't need an excuse, right? All right"
( 59.5 sec. )

70:48 Min.
There is an additional dialog in the farewell scene at the car which refers to the previous one and therefore only available in the Director’s cut.
Nick: "It was first grade, hmm? Your mother helped you with the spelling. It was my birthday." Due to continuity reasons the scene where Denise gets into the car has been differently filmed.
( 15 sec. )
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

71:14 Min.
Only in the Director’s cut directly after the farewell of Nick’s family there is a short sequence where Nicks walks back into his house. There he suddenly notices the newspaper clipping then knowing that Shelton must have been in his house.
( 48.5 sec. )

72:51 Min.
There has been a change too when Nick and Dunnigan meet Shelton in front of the jail gates. After Shelton’s sentence: "This is total fucking war!" the scene where Dunnigan pulls his weapon ("You Fuck") and holding it against Shelton’s head is missing. Nick stops him and Dunnigan pockets back the weapon. Due to continuity reasons there is also alternative material in the shorter theatrical version.
Theatrical version = 2 seconds / Director’s cut = 15 seconds
Total difference: ( 13 sec. )
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

73:56 Min.
At the funeral on the way to the cars there is only in the Director’s cut a longer dialog scene between Jonas and Nick.
Jonas: "I want to read you something from my speech before we go." ("We must not give in to the fear. We must face those things we fear the most. We must appeal to our better angels.") "Too much?"
Nick: "I'm sorry. It's just before, when you asked if we brought this on ourselves - we didn't. I did. When I was young, I really wanted to change the system. You know, I was ready to fight. I was going to be the best no matter what. You give an inch here, you give an inch there, you get caught up in the game. And then you realize that the system that you're trying to change - it changed you. Jonas, I've lost my way somewhere."
Jonas: "Look, remember what I told you? The hard part isn't making the decision. (both:) It's living with it."
Due to continuity reasons the last shot of Nick runs a little longer in the theatrical version.
Total difference: ( 64 sec. )

74:37 Min.
In the Director’s cut there are some additional plots of the assassin respectively of the panel and the monitor.
( 4 sec. )

76:13 Min.
There is another scene of Jonas bleeding in the car. As an alternative solution, the back-view of Jonas head starts a little earlier in the theatrical version so that there is no running time difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

76:18 Min.
Two additional shots of Jonas just before the rocket get fired.
( 4 sec. )

83:17 Min.
Again there are two more takes where Nick and Dunnigan walk through the corridor. The shot which is again identical in both version starts earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 11 sec. )

85:48 Min.
While they are in Shelton’s hiding place Dunnigan and Nick suddenly notice something on the monitor, the camera surveillance of Nick’s house.
Dunnigan: "Shit. Is that your house?"
Nick: "Yes" (he immediately calls at home) "Baby, please tell me you're okay. Denise - where is she? Is she with you? Are you sure? Okay. Stay where you are. I'll explain later."
( 22.5 sec. )

85:49 Min.
Directly subsequent there are alternative shots when they both notice the tag with the original citation from Von Clausewitz.
Theatrical version = 2 seconds / Director’s cut = 3.5 seconds
Total difference: ( 1.5 sec. )
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

90:20 Min.
There is another take of Shelton walking through his hiding place having a look on the monitor.
( 9.5 sec. )

90:33 Min.
There is an additional scene of the conference room where the mayor gets announced. The following closer shot also start earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 5 sec. )

95:43 Min.
The last scene of Shelton before the explosion is alternatively in both versions. In the Director’s cut there is a light zoom in on him where he is constantly staring at the chain. In the theatrical version there is a close-up view on him and finally Shelton raises his eyes. There is no running time difference.
Director‘s cut:Theatrical version:

95:55 Min.
But therefore after the explosion there is a close-up view of Shelton’s face in the Director’s cut.
( 5 sec. )

96:14 Min.
The scene of the school production starts a little earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 4.5 sec. )

96:30 Min.
An alternative shot of Denise but there is no running time difference.
Director’s cut:Theatrical version:

96:42 Min.
Again one scene which starts earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 2 sec. )

96:46 Min.
And…yep again a scene starting earlier in the Director’s cut.
( 1.5 sec. )

97:16 Min.
And last but not least.... the closing frame runs longer....
( 4.5 sec. )