Plays

High-Impact Thriller Kicks Ass, Takes Names

Law Abiding Citizen Starring Gerard Butler & Jamie Foxx Directed by F. Gary Gray Rated R 01:48 3 stars Director F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”) threw a little something for everyone into “Law Abiding Citizen.” Action fans will salivate before the explosive-rich revenge plot of Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler, sans “300” abs), a family man who loses everything in a fatal home invasion. Deep thinkers will appreciate the dichotomy of morality-based justice and legalism, embodied by Shelton and Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) — a hotshot prosecutor who bends the truth to get ahead at work. And homebodies will be warmed by Rice’s attempts at balancing work and family. That is, until Shelton sends Rice’s daughter a tape of a murderer being tortured. Don’t expect a breath of fresh air: It takes only 10 minutes for Shelton’s life to be flipped upside down, and for Rice to cut a deal in exchange for guilty pleas. Before you’ve finished your first fistful of popcorn and even started thinking about that $5 soda, Shelton’s already halfway through his killing spree, and — in the “twist” that the trailer hypes — has handed himself over to the police. Whenever Shelton appears on-screen, the theater crackles with vicious, expectant energy that grips the audience with the anticipation of a disappearing pencil trick. The writers don’t disappoint, either: Shelton has all the calculated cruelty of a smartass Moriarty, wielding legal precedents with as much skill as his MacGyver-inspired death toys. Rice is a little more disappointing — though to be fair, Batman never quite equaled the Joker, either. A believer in the system — partly because it’s worked so well for him — Mr. Assistant D.A. of Philly makes for a hell of a good guy in over his head — too good, in fact. To the point where his lapse into corruption feels tacked on. The actors bring the film to life with a little help from Philadelphia itself. Gray milks the onetime capital for all it’s worth, creating a vivid neo-noire landscape nothing like Hollywood’s go-to thriller backdrop. The contrast of turn-of-the-century City Hall and Philly’s modern cement-scape makes for a poignant parallel of civilized rigmarole to Shelton’s primitive idea of justice without due process. Nuanced as his social commentary might be, Gray crafts a taut, no-punches-pulled heart-racer that moves so fast, you’re neck’s already broken. And if it weren’t for the muscles in your face seizing up from that foolish grin, you’d be hard pressed to believe that “Citizen” is almost two hours long. This isn’t just “Michael Baysplosion 2,” either: This is the marriage of great plot, believable actors and a script too smart for its own good. ...

Great Expectations

SWIMMING & DIVING — The UCSD swimming and diving team has faced some very serious challenges at the start of the 2009-10 season — but if its record-breaking first meet is any indicator, there shouldn’t be much more trouble in the water. Though the team’s practices are usually held at Canyon View Aquatic Center, players and coaches were forced to move their preparations to nearby Cathedral Catholic High School when the UCSD steam room exploded. Needless to say, early season preparations have not been ideal. “We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices and compromises without trying to compromise training,” head coach Scott McGihon said. “We’re in a position now of having to drive down to Coronado, where we train for three to four hours at a high school.” Adding to the Tritons’ location problems is a rocky transition period to a new set of competitors after losing several key members of the strong 2008-09 squad. During last year’s campaign both the men and women’s teams won the Pacific Coast Swimming Conference Championships in Long Beach, sending a combined 26 student athletes to the NCAA Division II National Championships. At Nationals, UCSD saw two of its star swimmers — seniors Dan Perdew and Kendall Bohn — become National Champions in the 100-meter freestyle and the 200-meter breaststroke, respectively. Additionally, McGihon was recognized as the Pacific Coast Swim and Diving Coach of the Year. In order to live up to their history, the team will be counting on a large contingent of underclassman swimmers, who will make up 17 of the 23 spots on the men’s roster and 23 of 29 on the women’s. McGihon is quick to quell any concern that the underclassmen may not be ready. “We’re very excited about this year’s recruiting class — the best we’ve had in school history,” McGihon said. Based on the results of the annual intersquad Blue vs. Gold Meet that took place on Oct. 10, there is little evidence to the contrary. McGihon said the meet was a good opportunity for the team to gauge its strengths and weaknesses. The team started its first preseason meet off right, collectively breaking nine meet records. The blue women emerged victorious over their gold-team counterparts by a score of 137-126, while the gold men held on for a tight 128-126 victory over the blue team. The story of the day, however, was the record-breaking performances of freshman Adam Rice and sophomore Alex Henley, who broke two meet records apiece. Rice set all-time men’s meet records in both the 300-yard individual medley and the 150-yard fly. Henley did the same in the women’s record books, for the 150-yard backstroke and the 300-yard individual medley. After his first collegiate-level meet, Rice offered a humble reflection on his performance. “I tried to keep up a positive mindset, and to be OK with how I do, but to push my body as far as it can in every individual race,” Rice said. “I want to hold that mindset throughout the rest of the year, since it has worked for me so well in the past.” The Tritons’ next meet is on Oct. 24, when they host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps; the meet will again be held at the Cathedral Catholic High School pool. “I think our main goal, of course, is to better what was done last year,” Rice said. “I think this year — with all of the fast freshmen we have — we can achieve that and most likely do more than expected.” [caption id="attachment_776" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="At the annual Blue vs. Gold Meet, four meet records were broken - three coming from the performances of underclassmen swimmers (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)."][/caption] ...

Tournament Split Furthers Water-Polo Troubles

MEN’S WATER POLO — Competing alongside several of the nation’s top teams, the No. 11 men’s water-polo team returned from their Southern California tournament, from Oct. 10 to Oct., 11 with mixed results. The Tritons split their games on both days of the UC Irvine Invitational, first falling 10-6 to longtime rival No. 5 Loyola Marymount before picking up an 8-5 win over No. 13 Pacific. Day two saw the Tritons lose a hard-fought game 8-7 to No. 9 UC Irvine, but they ended on a high note when UCSD defeated No. 12 UC Davis for the third consecutive time this season, in a resounding 11-4 victory. “In college polo, it’s important to be able to swim up and down the pool at an elite level,” senior driver Sean Roberts said. “In the games against UC Davis and Pacific, we played up to the physicality that both teams brought. It was actually fun getting into it with them. The same can be said about Irvine. It was a hard physical game, and we just came up short one goal in the end.” The Tritons put together a balanced attack with seven players contributing offensively. Holding a slight 3-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter, UCSD then scored the first four goals of the second quarter to snatch a 7-2 lead and ultimately gain control of the contest. On solid defense, the Tritons held the Aggies to one goal in the second half, enabling UCSD to cruise to an 11-4 win. Senior Steven Donohoe led the Tritons with three goals. Senior driver Bryce Madsen and junior driver Ryan Allred added two goals apiece. Senior utility Ian Bausback, senior drivers Sean Roberts and Kneif Lohse and junior driver Sean Cruz also scored toward UCSD’s win. Earlier that day, the Tritons faced the UC Irvine Anteaters for what would be a well-fought match. Trailing 4-6 upon entering the final period, the Anteaters extended their advantage when they scored two fourth-quarter goals to secure an 8-5 lead. Senior two-meter defender Peter Gresham and Roberts gave the Tritons a chance when Gresham scored at the 1:26 mark to cut the margin by two. With 47 seconds remaining, Roberts converted on a man-up opportunity to pull the Tritons within one — but the late-game surge was not enough to overtake the Anteaters, and UCI held on for the 8-7 win. The Tritons opened the tournament on Oct. 10 facing their toughest rivals: the LMU Lions. In a 10-6 defeat, the Tritons trailed 5-2 at the end of the first half, and were never quite able to claw their way back into the game. “Against LMU, we are still figuring out some tactical ways to address the team,” Roberts said. “The important thing is that every time we play them, we learn new things about their strategy, and that will pay off later at [the Western Water Polo Association Championships].” In their match against Pacific, UCSD fared much better. Pacific narrowed UCSD’s lead to 6-5, but senior two-meter defender Steven Donohoe fired in goals to boost the Triton advantage to 8-5. In the final period, UCSD’s defense held Pacific to zero scores, securing the win. With the 2-2 showing at the tournament, the Tritons’ record now stands at 9-9 for the season. “At this point in the season, it’s all about taking steps forward and not backward,” Roberts said. “Right now, we need to play more physical ball with a determination.” UCSD is back in action this Friday, Oct. 16, when the Tritons will host the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. ...