The three funniest films of 2009 have been 'The Hangover', 'Zombieland' and 'Law Abiding Citizen'. This, however, is supposed to be a legal thriller - but don't let that put you off some great guffaws.

When the two men responsible for the murder of his wife and daughter are caught, inventor Clyde Shelton (Butler) expects justice from prosecutor Nick Rice (Foxx); what he gets is the law. One of the two men, the actual killer, becomes a prosecution witness in a deal that sees him getting eight years and his accomplice receiving the death penalty.

So Shelton decides to take matters into his own hands. But he won't just stop at the criminals: he wants to show just what a sham the entire legal system is, and he's determined to make Rice and his colleagues pay as well.

For 20 minutes, 'Law Abiding Citizen' looks like a decent study of a grief-stricken and angry man at the mercy of the criminal justice system. There are some good lines like "Some justice is better than no justice at all" and "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove", and so you expect a mainstream movie with some interesting things to say.

But after the 20-minute mark they should have put the 'Tom and Jerry' logo up on screen and blasted out the theme music to prepare you for what's on the way.

The plot moves forward 10 years but Foxx and Butler's characters hardly age, the deaths become ever more elaborate and the laughs increase in direct proportion to the body count. And while the lines between good guy and bad guy here are meant to be blurry, you don't care about what happens to either Shelton or Rice - you're more concerned about how Foxx and Butler read the farcical script and decided it was good for their careers.

Not even Luke from Autoglass could fix all the cracks in this.

Harry Guerin