Anchor Bay // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // June 15th, 2012
Nic Cage is seeking justice the old fashioned way -- through sheer dumb luck.
It's tempting to kill a bastard who murders someone you love or does something unspeakable to a child. However, since men are imperfect, they can never enact perfect justice. When they go outside of the law to take matters into their own hands, things always end up spiraling out of control, no matter how altruistic the motives may be. Vigilantism often starts with the best of intentions and ends with the lines being blurred between good guy and bad. In Seeking Justice, Nicolas Cage (Kick-Ass) comes face-to-face with an organization that began as citizens wanting to rid their town of the vermin that overtook it, and ultimately became even more dangerous than criminals they ousted.
Will Gerard (Cage) is a mild mannered High School teacher whose wife, Laura (January Jones Mad Men), is raped and beaten on her way home one night. While visiting her in the hospital, Will is approached by a curious stranger named Simon (Guy Pearce Memento) who works for a secret organization that specializes in enacting justice against brutal offenders. Simon offers to "take care" of the rapist free of charge. Don't do it Will, you'll be sorry! And sorry he is, because once Simon has fulfilled his promise, Will must repay the company by killing a man purported to be a pedophile. When Will refuses, he becomes a target of this rogue vigilante group.
Lately, the man christened Nicholas Coppola has done little more than mumble his way through poorly structured film roles with barely an emotional investment. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much from Seeking Justice...But I tell ya what, I was pleasantly surprised by this little known action flick that came to theaters and left faster than a Kim Kardashian boyfriend. The script by Todd Hickey and Robert Tannen is solid, and Cage lucidly performs his role as if he truly cares about the character and his plight.
Cage manages to momentarily curtail the over-the-top acting style which has become his trademark. As an average guy who teaches at an inner city school, he plays the "tortured husband dealing with his wife's attack" very well. In a moment of weakness, he makes a terrible decision, but one the audience can understand and empathize with. As the saying goes, "there's no such thing as a free lunch," and Will realizes far too late there are consequences to his decision. But by the time he comes to his senses, he's obligated to Simon to "return the favor." In addition to helping Laura recover, he must now try and prevent a mad man from killing him and his wife as well. Director Roger Donaldson (Bank Job) wisely does not turn Will into instant superman; a high school teacher who becomes Rambo just in the nick of time. Will is scared, just like you and I would be; he does dumb things, just like you and I would; and gets himself into a deeper mess, if that's at all possible. When he's arrested by police after being set up by Simon, it looks like curtains for dear Will. However, an improbable event frees him before Simon can have him rubbed out. Sure, it's kind of gimmicky, but it works.
As Will's wife, January Jones' performance is on the robotic side, speaking her lines as if she's been programmed. The only way we know Laura is feeling any kind of emotion is when her eyes begin to blink in rapid succession; the specific emotion is never clear, all we know is she's distressed. Jones isn't great but she doesn't hurt the film either. In fact, she and Cage have some chemistry and I actually began to like her. Cage and Jones are supported by a talented cast that includes Harold Perrineau (Lost), as Will's best friend Jimmy. Always solid, Perrineau and Cage work well together as longtime buddies. Then there's Xander Berkley (Taken) as Detective Durgan, a somewhat mysterious figure who becomes pivotal in Will's survival. A great character actor we've seen in a million movies, he's an asset to the film, though his Louisiana accent needs a bit of work. Then there's Guy Pearce as the cold and calculating Simon. Cage may be the star, but Pearce gives Seeking Justice its weight, playing Simon as charming and terrifying all at the same time. We don't know much about his character, but it's insinuated that at one time his motives were sincere and his actions above board -- at least for a vigilante. Pearce is a wonderful actor and I don't understand why he is not a heavier hitter in Hollywood; maybe he likes staying under the radar.
Presented in standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Anchor Bay offers up a decent transfer but nothing to write home about. Donaldson doesn't take advantage of the city of New Orleans nearly enough, the film looking as if it could've taken place in "Any Old Town, USA." What little he does capture of the city is colorful, the darker colors used to enhance the seedier side of life Will is forced to take part in. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix is clear and easy to understand. In recent years, directors have been using their soundtracks more carefully, trying not to lead the viewer by the nose with musical cues that warn you something is going to happen. Here, composer J. Peter Robinson's score is used quite well to heighten the action. The lone extra is a short behind-the-scenes featurette.
I freely admit to liking Seeking Justice. I'm just not sure if my enjoyment surfaced because I expected it to be so awful. I have a soft spot for the quirky Cage, and this is perfect for a relaxing night at home with the honey.
Not Guilty. Justice has been served.
Review content copyright © 2012 Alice Nelson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site