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How To Name Your Action Movie

Here, Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx work out their differences in Law Abiding Citizen. And in fact, neither of them looks particularly law-abiding. LAC Films hide caption

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LAC Films

It's kind of amazing that the new Jamie Foxx movie is called Law Abiding Citizen, isn't it? And I don't just mean the missing hyphen, although ... there is a missing hyphen. Technically, the title Law Abiding Citizen is more like a newspaper headline announcing that the law is patiently tolerating a citizen, sigh, probably because it is the law and it has no choice. "Law Abiding Citizen; Citizen Still Kind Of A Pain In The Neck."

I assume this is an ironic title, action-movie-wise. I mean, nobody really wants you to conclude that it is about a law-abiding citizen. Who would watch a movie about a law-abiding citizen? Would you watch a remake of Die Hard called Safety Harness? I think you would not.

Furthermore, the synopsis of the movie says that the main character takes justice into his own hands. That is not the act of a law-abiding citizen. That is the act of a law-ignoring citizen. Wouldn't it be better if they had called the movie Law-Flouting Citizen? Now that, I might have attended. Law-Flouting Citizen, with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler!

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It turns out there's a science to naming your action movie.

The highly scientific science, after the jump.

First of all, you have to throw out sequels, because there is a special art to naming sequels. Specifically, you should use the word "Revenge." In addition to Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, there are also Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman*, Revenge Of The Pink Panther, Revenge Of Frankenstein, Revenge Of The Creature, Revenge Of The Cheerleaders, and, of course, Sex And The City: Revenge Of The Economy And, As A Result, Payless Shoes.

Sometimes, you can name your action movie just by throwing in some words that sound action-movie-like. The Fast And the Furious is a good example of this. Almost anything would work, really. The Brave And The Sweaty, The Sudden And The Explosive, The Loud And the Unlikely. (Note that in every case, these could also be soap operas.)

You can name your action movie after your hero, although how seriously people take your movie may be determined by how action-ready your hero sounds. If you want to make it sound like you are making a serious movie for sophisticated teenagers, make sure you match the sound of your hero's name to the inevitable subtitle, because no one would have gone to see either Paul Blart: The Rise Of Cobra or G.I. Joe: Mall Cop.**

Another option is to make the title as short and foreboding as possible, to reduce the opportunities for mockery. Speed is a great example of this, since you can't really mock the title, and will therefore be stuck mocking absolutely everything else about the movie, up to — and including, and especially — the part where Keanu Reeves confronts the guy with the gun and tells him, "I'm not here for you, maaaan, let's not do this."