A few weeks ago, I came across this comment on Reddit about Law Abiding Citizen, and how some people think that the ending was bad. So I would just like to say that first of all, I do like the ending as it stands(see the parent comment). It fits with the movie, especially since earlier in the movie Clyde explicitly told Nick that his objective wasn’t to kill him, it was to teach him a lesson. It’s a bit hard to teach somebody a lesson if they are dead!
However, the two alternative endings are interesting, so here are some thoughts on how those might play out:
The same ending happens, but during the meeting with the city officials the Mayor basically sanctions higher ups to stop Shelton by any means necessary because of how politically damaging it is becoming. She basically gives the go ahead to have them kill him and make it look like an accident, but unbeknownst to them the same feed Shelton was watching in prison is being live-streamed to media new outlets around the world, thereby showing the world that the people that swore to uphold justice will wilfully abandon their morals to save themselves, thus “bring the whole fuckin’ diseased, corrupt temple down…”.
This would be kinda cool, in a revenge sort of way, to perhaps show that corruption goes all the way up. But I don’t really see how this could be a good ending with teaching Nick a lesson – I think it would have to end with the feed going out, but the bomb still going off, to show that once you break the rules there are consequences.
The original ending plays out the same, except at the end Foxx is sitting at his daughters recital pleased as punch that he beat Butler, even though it was by straight up
murdering himletting him die, and his tie suddenly tightens and chokes him to death (the same method that was foreshadowed by the CIA agent earlier in the film). Clyde still dies, but Foxx learns that even the DA is not exempt from ‘action without consequence’ so it’s a little easier to swallow.
So what would also make this very cool would be to have an ending similar to Inception. You don’t show the actual act, you have the tie start to visibly tighten and then show Nick’s hand going up to his neck to play with the tie – and then cut out. Again though, I don’t think that this fits with the theme of teaching Nick a lesson, since it’s hard to teach him a lesson if he’s dead. It would be a cool ending though.