Justice seeking is a thematic flick fave — whether it be classic cat and mouse ala Strangers on a Train; hardcore action along the lines of the Dirty Harry series or Taken; and even horror in the Saw film franchise — but no matter what the hook, there should be a reason for going through all the trouble to write, cast, produce, edit and release any film, no matter how genre-specific it may be. As I watched Seeking Justice, I kept looking for a reason that it should exist and could find few.
One of the few reasons is its cast. I am a real Guy Pearce fan; I am always open to some January Jones; and I keep forgiving Nicholas Cage because occasionally he rewards my time spent. Whether he's running from bitches and bee-swarms (The Wicker Man), noshing on jelly beans and listening to the Carpenters between bouts of flaming skull (Ghost Rider), or he's just your everyday average speed-racer emissary of hell (Drive Angry 3D), Nicholas Cage is nothing if not entertaining.
In Seeking Justice he's Will Gerard, a high-school English teacher who lives the life with his beautiful cellist wife, Laura (January Jones). They celebrate a happy anniversary night of suburban bliss doing the usual — dinner out, making love in, etc., — but soon after, Laura is brutalized and raped within an inch of her existence. While on vigil at the hospital, a distraught Will makes the unfortunate choice of taking a bargain from the devil. Not a supernatural one, but an shady manipulator in the form of mysterious Simon (Guy Pearce).
Simon says he will take care of Laura's attacker ("We're just a few citizens… seeking justice!"), in exchange for a simple favor to be named in the future. Will accepts the deal, lo and behold the rapist winds up dead later that very night, and soon enough Will's called upon to keep his end of the deal. But Will's a weasel and won't go through with it… this doesn't sit well with Simon and what turns out to be a pyramid scheme of murder, sends Will and Laura spiraling out on a flight from faux justice. Insert stock subterfuge, routine close calls, senseless conspiracy theories, customary car chases, and rinse and repeat.
Directed with an exceedingly heavy hand, Seeking Justice relies on expository dialogue and flashback montages (within just a few moments of its start, the movie was already showing bits from scene just shown 5 minutes ago!). The score is manipulative, and the cinematography is hum-drum. Good actors are wasted in throwaway roles (did Jennifer Carpenter owe somebody a favor, too?). And, yet… I kept watching.
That's because Seeking Justice really isn't a terrible movie. In spite of some incredibly dumb choices made by Will, Nicolas Cage turns in a solid, refreshingly non-histrionic performance. January Jones is believable in an unbelievable role, Guy Pearce is good as the baddie, and Harold Perrineau Jr., adds texture and nuance to an otherwise cardboard character.
True, Seeking Justice really has no good reason to exist. Also true, it's a decent timewaster if you're in the mood for a little cinematic fast-food.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson