Director: Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, The World’s Fastest Indian, The Recruit, Thirteen Days, Cocktail)
Screenplay: Todd Hickey, Robert Tannen
Producers: Ram Bergman, Tobey Maguire, James D. Stern
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones, Jennifer Carpenter, Harold Perrineau
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 105 min.
One would think that a movie in which Nicholas Cage plays a highschool English teacher who is dragged into a vendetta ring that he then has to break out of would be awesome. Especially when that ring of justice seeking vigilantes is led by the fantastic Guy Pearce but alas Seeking Justice is just another entry into Cage’s ledger of paychecks, one in which he tries even less than usual.
We’re used to these paycheck movies by now, they seem to be the driving force of Cage’s career for the last few years and quite frankly, I don’t mind. Even when they look awful, they tend to be hugely entertaining, if not in crazy stories then at least for Cage’s ridiculous antics, but Seeking Justice just doesn’t live up to it’s synopsis promise of awesomeness.
As already noted, Cage plays Will, an English teacher whose wife (January Jones) is violently raped. As he’s in the hospital stressing about his wife who won’t even let him hold her hand, he’s approached by Simon (Pearce) with an offer: we’ll take care of your wife’s rapist. It won’t cost you any money but when it’s convenient for us, we’ll ask you for a favour. Cage agonizes over the choice for a few minutes and eventually gives in. A few months later he gets a call from Simon giving him instructions to kill a guy who is a convicted child molester. We later discover that Simon is actually working off his own agenda and Will, being the curious guy that he is, smells something fishy and goes searching for the answers.
It sounds like it has potential and truthfully, Seeking Justice isn’t completely awful but it also leaves much to be desired. The action sequences are mediocre at best, the story is predictable and largely uninteresting and the acting, for the most part, forgettable. The few exceptions here are Care when he enters full-desperation mode (Cage is great when he enters over-the-top territory) and Pearce whose scenes are so good, it’s almost as if he’s acting in a completely different movie. Pearce excels at playing unhinged creepy while still appearing to be in control. It’s not an easy thing to pull off but he does it wonderfully. Amidst all the overly-serious moments, the film’s last act is pretty superb, allowing for a great, purposefully comedic sequence in a stadium before ending in a bombastic shootout set in an abandoned shopping mall.
For the most part, Seeking Justice is a largely forgettable action thriller, the kind of thing that pops up on TV on a Saturday afternoon and you wonder where it came from. It certainly has aspirations beyond direct-to-DVD but sadly, that’s exactly where it’s ended up. A shame considering that Roger Donaldson’s work is generally great and the cast certainly suggests better. It’s not a complete dud but it’s far from great.
Seeking Justice is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, July 3rd.
DVD Extras: None.
Click “play” to see the trailer: