It’s rare nowadays that Nicolas Cage makes a film worth watching, but unfortunately Roger Donaldson's Seeking Justice does nothing to fix that trend.
Set in New Orleans, the story follows Will Gerard (Cage), a man lost when his wife, Laura (January Jones), is raped and assaulted one night. While at the hospital, Will is approached by a mysterious man named Simon (Guy Pearce), who makes him a tempting yet obviously suspicious offer: he’s willing to have the rapist killed so long as Will is prepared to do a favor for Simon in the future. Caught up in his emotions, the hero agrees to the deal, but when it comes time for Will’s end of the bargain he finds himself trapped in a convoluted web that not only threatens his own life but the lives of everyone around him.
Even after sitting through all 105 minutes of Seeking Justice, I’m still not convinced it’s a thriller. The movie operates at a desperately slow pace and only picks up when characters are able to do something easily that would be practically impossible in the real world (like the cops immediately finding and arrested Will for murder after an accident despite the fact that he doesn’t have any priors and their only piece of evidence is some grainy, poorly-angled security footage). What’s more, there is an unending amount of misdirection and idiocy. Every time Simon calls Will he makes a habit of having him do pointless tasks that have nothing to do with the actual plot, like going to the local zoo, mailing a letter to Santa, or buying a pack of gum at the local convenience store. While this is done with the intention of showing Simon’s power over Will, it only serves to further stall the film and comes across as silly rather than intimidating.
For the film’s action sequences Donaldson goes for realism over flash – which is the right choice for the grounded characters and story – but he also forgets to infuse any kind of style or entertainment value. One particular sequence has Will on the run from Simon and his goons on the highway and the camera just sits there and watches the Nicolas Cage trot by, never doing anything to show our hero’s fear or exhaustion. It gets even worse when the characters try to do anything physical, like scaling fences or crawling down walls. It’s fine if you don’t want your actors doing Parkour, but you should at least avoid making them look like bumbling fools.
If the movie actually had been engaging or had brilliant action set pieces, it likely would have been pointless as there isn’t a single actor who isn’t totally sleepwalking through their part. While Cage is at his best when he’s permitted to be batshit insane, even during the most stressful parts of Seeking Justice it doesn’t look like his heartbeat elevates above “resting.” The same could be said for Jones, whose character is stone-faced while supposedly deeply shaken after her attack and simultaneously dealing with a husband on the run from both the police and a secret vigilante group. At the very least Pearce has the appearance down, looking intimidating with a shaved head, suit and tie, but his line delivery is lazy and he never looks fully invested in the scene.
It’s difficult to find anything positive to say about Seeking Justice. The movie wastes no opportunity to show its audience how meandering and idiotic the story is, and given the familiar plot line you can’t even call it a waste of potential. Save your money for the next Nicolas Cage movie, which I can only hope will be at least a fraction better than what he was presented here.
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