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Sweet revenge in gripping thriller

I must confess to having a soft spot for revenge thrillers. Kevin Bacon's Death Sentence. Liam Neeson's Taken. Even Charles Bronson's OTT Death Wish series.

You know the type -- mild-mannered family man sees his loved ones killed by thugs, so he embarks on a Baghdad-style bloodbath.

The only trouble is that the makers always get wishy-washy before the end and we're given a lecture on why you should never take the law into your own hands.

And so it is here in the tale of Clyde Shelton (a great turn by Gerard Butler), an engineer whose wife and young daughter are butchered by a pair of home invaders.

The actual killer rats out his accomplice, gets a short sentence, and the other hapless criminal is assigned to death row.

And it's all the work of egotistical assistant district attorney Nick Rice, who doesn't deal in justice, just getting a high conviction rate through plea bargains by scumbags.

A decade on, the accomplice is facing a lethal injection -- but it all goes horribly wrong.

Yes, he dies -- but it's a bit more painful than expected and the police launch a probe to see who put a nasty cocktail of pain-inducing chemicals in his IV.

Soon the other bad guy turns up in 28 different pieces, with plenty of bits of him (including some, er, private bits) hacked off with a chainsaw and blade.

The investigation, led by our own Colm Meaney as hard-bitten cop Detective Dunnigan, soon homes in on Shelton, and he's put behind bars.

And that, bizarrely, is where he wants to be as he sets out to kill anyone in the legal system involved in the case by blowing them up or machine-gunning them. And then blowing them up. You see, Shelton's not just an engineer -- he's also a super-spy who can kill people at a whim using MacGyver-style props and gadgets.

It's a fun cat-and-mouse game, until towards the end it seems as if they've switched scriptwriters, Shelton is made out to be totally bonkers, while we're forced to root for the amoral Nick Rice.

Annoying at the end, but a solid thriller nonetheless.

DVD EXTRAS: Producers' commentary; justice system featurette; behind the scenes; and visual effects.