Review: Seeking Justice
PLOT: One dark night, Will Gerard's wife is brutally attacked. While in the hospital, Will is approached by a man offering to “take care of” the man who committed the crime. Hoping to have justice brought against her attacker, Will agrees. After the deed is done however, the same stranger begins to make certain requests. Once he makes the decision to stop helping this questionable fellow, this deadly group of justice seekers go after Will and his wife as they fight desperately to stay alive.
SEEKING JUSTICE is the story of a bunch of mostly bald men – possibly jealous of Nicolas Cage’s current hair – who run what you could call a homicidal pyramid scheme. Similar in theme to the 1983 feature THE STAR CHAMBER, JUSTICE’s baddies seem to have some serious questionable ethics. First off, if they do something for you, you have to do something for them. This usually means you have to off somebody in some way. The problem is they are generally doing it to people who are not necessarily guilty of anything, aside from having issue with murder.
Nicolas Cage plays Will Gerard, a teacher in New Orleans whose wife Laura (January Jones) is brutally assaulted. While in the waiting room a strange fellow by the name of “Simon” (Guy Pearce) offers to have Laura’s attacker taken care of. All he asks in return is a favor down the road. Clearly there is something wrong with this picture, but it is too much to resist for the grief-stricken Will. Afterwards, everything is kosher until they contact the teacher to kill a sex offender. When the teacher begins to question what he is asked to do, he puts himself and his wife in a whole new world of jeopardy.
It is certainly an intriguing concept, and considering the bad word of mouth, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Of course that doesn’t mean it is any good. Director Roger Donaldson (NO WAY OUT, SPECIES, THE RECRUIT) moves quickly through this world of paranoia and “hungry rabbits jumping” – “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps” is a code for this secret society of justice avengers and an earlier title for the film – that it sometimes needs to slow down. The editing is so quick that many of the scenes feel rushed and incomplete. As rapid as the pace moves, it takes away from feeling much of anything for either Laura or Will. In many ways, the over stimulation of this flick leads to a dull cinematic experience.
It is sort of frustrating to watch most of Cage’s recent flicks. He has given life to several iconic characters, and he continues to work hard. In JUSTICE, he is far more grounded than he has been in the past few endeavors. And frankly he is believable enough playing the Shakespeare reciting teacher trying to connect with his disaffected students. January Jones is also good here and she is given a little more to do than one would expect. Yet the two have very little chemistry together. The more distant they grow after her assault, the more honest it felt. Their relationship feels lackluster and cold, even when he is crying by her side in the hospital. However this distance feels appropriate for a good portion of the film.
Guy Pearce is a very charismatic actor. He carries himself well, especially as a villain. The guy is trouble no matter how thoughtful or sincere he is acting. You almost have to wonder if better judgment would step in if this guy approached you after something this devastating. With this solid of a cast, you have to wonder if they are simply stilted by the clichéd script. There is not a single, original idea in this entire predictable film. It is clear from the get go what is happening and why. The mystery or suspense is sadly lacking because nearly every twist is telegraphed well in advance or we’ve seen it before. Add to that the direct to DVD production values and lousy special effects and you’ve got yourself a rental at best. If you are a hard core Nic Cage fan this won’t kill ya, but avoiding it may make you stronger.