Seeking Justice (2012)
Starring Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones, Harold Perrineau, Jennifer Carpenter
Directed by Roger Donaldson
If you know anything about us here at Dread Central, then it should come to no surprise to hear that whenever we hear that Nicolas Cage has got another flick on the horizon, we get giddy as a schoolgirl reading an issue of Tiger Beat in anticipation of its release.
Sure, most of his latest efforts aren’t what you’d call stellar (or even good) but for his latest project, Cage does deliver a rather decent performance in director Roger Donaldson’s latest thriller called Seeking Justice, managing to make the middle-of-the-road thriller somehow better than it has any right to be. No, it’s certainly not cinematic gold but for as far as modern crime thrillers go Seeking Justice actually manages to punch things up a bit by incorporating a handful of surprises into a story we’ve seen countless times before; or at least before the story gets derailed during the final 20 minutes or so negating the rest of the movie almost entirely.
In Seeking Justice, we meet New Orleans teacher and all-around nice guy Will Gerrard (Cage) becomes involved with an organization of vigilantes, led by a mysterious man only known as Simon (Guy Pearce), to seek out revenge on his wife's (January Jones) attacker after she’s brutally raped one night while getting into her parked car. However, Will soon learns the painful lesson that vigilante justice comes with a hefty price tag and when he’s unable to fulfill his obligations to the organization, the race is on between Simon and Will to see just who can dish out revenge first between them.
Seeking Justice starts off rather generically and doesn’t do too much to get us to dig in deep with the film’s lead characters but around the second act, that’s when things get moderately interesting once Will decides to defy Simon and his army of private justice-seeking citizens who have all taken it upon themselves to restore order to the troubled streets of New Orleans since the police force seems unable to do so. You get a lot of weird little side stories and suspicious characters that you can’t tell whether or not they’re trustworthy which actually managed to be entertaining and somewhat engaging.
However, all that ‘conspiracy theory’-esque atmosphere ends up being for naught when Seeking Justice then heads off into territory that feels an awful like a(nother) modern spin on The Fugitive, leaving all that mystery and intrigue in the dust. There’s also a morality tale in play (is it right to seek out your own justice if you’ve been wronged?) that ends up being treated like an after-thought once the story wraps itself up neatly during the film’s climax inside a creepy abandoned mall right near the Super Dome.
As mentioned earlier, Cage manages to wrangle in all his crazy on Seeking Justice and does a pretty decent job with the material; Pearce is a suitably smarmy foe to Cage’s nice guy but neither feels like they’re truly 100 percent committed to their characters. Most of the rest of the cast are treated like an after-thought, as you’ll no doubt be saying “Oh yeah, the guy from Lost is in this!” somewhere around the beginning of the film’s third act. Jennifer Carpenter’s talents are absolutely wasted here as well, only garnering about 8 minutes of screentime overall (that might be a generous estimate too). It seems a shame to pull together such a talented ensemble like this for Seeking Justice and then do mostly nothing with them for the entire movie.
Overall, Seeking Justice is a mostly fun but ultimately forgettable and generic thriller that makes me yearn for the days where Cage still gave a damn about his career and not cashing in all those paychecks. It’s a somewhat underwhelming effort that demonstrates a lack of any real ambition by anyone involved with the project. That being said, Seeking Justice ends up being one of the least offensive thrillers Cage has made recently but the biggest crime here is that it had some potential in there to do some clever stuff and much like it’s star, just seems interested in showing up but never really wants to stretch itself to achieve any sort of excellence.
Not necessarily engaging enough to drop $15 on a theater ticket, Seeking Justice is definitely at least worth a rental fee once the flick gets its eventual home release later this year.
2 1/2 out of 5