SEEKING JUSTICE (2012)
Starring Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones, Jennifer Carpenter, Harold Perrineau, Xander Berkeley, IronE Singleton, Cullen Moss, Marcus Lyle Brown and Dikran Tulaine.
Screenplay by Robert Tannen.
Directed by Roger Donaldson.
Distributed by Anchor Bay Pictures. 105 minutes. Rated R.
Nicolas Cage has become such a whore when it comes to picking roles – releasing a new and awful potboiler every few months or so – that is sometimes comes as a surprise when through tenacity or sheer luck, he actually happens upon a good movie.
Not great, mind you. But grading on the Nic Cage curve that includes The Wicker Man, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, Knowing, Ghost Rider 2, etc., Seeking Justice comes out looking like a respectable enough piece of action filmmaking.
It’s not even worth rehashing the old argument that once upon a time Cage actually was a good actor who made intriguing, bold movies, but bad choices and bad investments have apparently made him unable to refuse any script, no matter how wretched.
It also seems to help when Cage lets loose in New Orleans with a talented director. Cage’s last bearable role was in underground director Abel Ferrara’s uneven, over-the-top remake of his own cult classic, Bad Lieutenant, which also deposited Cage in the Big Easy.
Seeking Justice pairs Cage up with a more traditional filmmaker, but Roger Donaldson has long been respected for his smart dramas and action films, such as The Bank Job, Species, No Way Out and Smash Palace. Donaldson’s sure hand keeps his occasionally hysterical storyline from teetering into the swamp of campy ridiculousness where most of Cage’s films of the last decade reside.
The storyline is rather simple. In fact it’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as Faust).
Cage plays Will Gerard, a smart, funny, devoted, popular English teacher. He has a great life. He loves his job. He has good friends. And he has the love of a good woman, his gorgeous wife Laura.
When his wife is the victim of a random act of violence in which she is savagely beaten, Will is bereft. Sitting in the hospital waiting room, waiting to get some news about her condition, Will is approached by a strange man named Simon (Guy Pearce) who seems to know all about what happened. What’s more, he says he belongs to a group of concerned citizens who will “take care” of the criminal responsible. All Simon asks is that Will might have to do him a favor somewhere down the line.
Hmmm… that sounds like trouble. However, Will is bereft and impulsively agrees.
Once the criminal who beat his wife is found dead, Simon reappears. Payback time. And suddenly, Will realizes that this whole situation is much deeper and more nefarious than he had ever imagined.
As you see, it is not the world’s most novel storyline. Also, often the storyline stretches credibility to the breaking point.
Still, it is fast paced, suspenseful and interesting through most of the film’s length. The climax is a bit over-the-top, but by then you are either in or out.
Surprisingly, I was mostly in. Seeking Justice is not going to soothe Cage fans still pining for the glory days, but as his cheesy sell-out roles go, this is one of the better ones.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 19, 2012.