Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Seeking Justice" (2011)

Starring Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce
Written by Robert Tannen
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 105 Minutes

Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage) is a mild-mannered literature teacher at a high school in New Orleans.  One night, his wife Laura (January Jones) is brutally beaten and raped.  While visiting her in the hospital, Will is approached by a man who calls himself Simon (Guy Pearce) who offers to "take care" of the individual responsible.  Will, in a moment of weakness, agrees in return for a favor to be named in the future.

Six months later, Simon reappears in Will's life, tasking him with following a young woman and two children at the zoo.  Unbeknownst to Will, he's being followed himself.  Simon continues to ask Will for more favors, finally telling him to murder a man Simon says is a child pornographer.  When Will refuses, Simon begins to intrude into his life, and even threatens Laura, until Will agrees to do as he's told.

But Will discovers that the man he was supposed to murder was in fact a journalist working to expose Simon's organization.  Wanted for murder, Will doesn't know who to trust in the police department or his own personal life.  He's on the run, trying to expose Simon and his organization for what they are: cold-blooded murderers.

There is exactly one thing about "Seeking Justice" that is actually quite good - Guy Pearce.  His performance as Simon grabs the attention.  He mixes an easy friendliness with a real sense of menace, making Simon the only intriguing thing in this thriller to watch.  The rest of it... another day, another mediocre Nicolas Cage thriller.

The premise is decent, but the script is nothing special.  Direction by Roger Donaldson comes alive during a couple of the action sequences, but otherwise it's all very by-the-numbers.  Later in the film, it seems to switch from daylight to nighttime nearly every scene, giving me the impression that entire days are passing, yet it doesn't seem so based on what's happening or the clothes people are wearing.  Despite this, the third act features some chase sequences that have some cool moments - Cage narrowly escapes getting squashed by a truck while running across the highway - but again, nothing really spectacular.

January Jones is very easy on the eyes, but I've decided that she's just a lousy actress.  Frankly the best thing I've seen her do is "X-Men: First Class," and she spent much of that film not talking.  Here, her line deliveries are flat at best and she has poor chemistry with the rest of the cast.  Speaking of the rest of the cast, "Seeking Justice" features plenty of recognizable names like Jennifer Carpenter ("Dexter"), Xander Berkley ("24") and Harold Perrineau ("Lost") but none of them really get much to do.  Nicolas Cage sleepwalks through his role once more, imbuing Will with nothing that makes him interesting.  Sure, the premise of his character is that he's pretty much a nobody, but that doesn't mean that I have to be bored watching him.

"Seeking Justice" isn't terrible, but it's not very good, either.  There's really nothing special about it, save for some fun to be had with Guy Pearce's performance.  It streams on Netflix if you're really curious, but I can't really recommend it unless you find these sort of middling thrillers your cup of tea.