“The Hungry Rabbit . . .”
Whenever I watch a Nicolas Cage movie I always wonder which guy is gonna show up, is he going to take the quirky route, is he really going to immerse himself in his character, or is he just cashing a paycheck? Seeking Justice
is one of those films that he really tries to make his character believable. He plays Will Gerard, a high school teacher married to a lovely cellist, Laura (January Jones). Set in New Orleans, this role is a far cry from his Bad Lieutenant
character set in the same Big Easy. But, he really plays a bit of a pussy, if you will pardon my frankness with the language.
I saw the previews for this one and was happy to see Guy Pearce was back in a role I could actually appreciate. He was brilliant in The King’s Speech, no kidding, but I longed to see him in a more action-based setting. So, when I got to screen this, I had immediate expectations from this film, it needed to be thrilling, it needed to keep my attention throughout, and it needed to leave a mark, make me want to recommend it to my friends. Sadly, it only mastered one of those three, it was thrilling, yet somehow I wasn’t pulled into the whole thing, and I can honestly say I would only recommend this film to genre lovers or cult followers of the talented actors.
The film was similar to an 80′s film with Michael Douglas, The Star Chamber. Seeking Justice is about how far you would be willing to go for vengeance, as justice and vengeance rarely wade in the same pool of blood. And justice, true justice, never gets hand-delivered with a nice chocolate bar . . . or two. (See the film for that inside bit).
From almost the first sequence, things go bad for our hero, his wife is raped and robbed whilst he is playing chess with his chum, Jimmy (Harold Perrineau). Like most self-absorbed guys, Will ignores the seven messages on his phone, not realizing til it is too late that he needs to rush to the hospital. He finally does get there, and stricken with guilt and despair, he catches the eye of Simon (Guy Pearce) who has a simple proposition for him. If he gives the appropriate signal, Simon’s team will “take care” of the rapist. Seeing his wife in a state of suspended vitality, knowing he can’t do anything but be there for her, he is enraged at his ineptness. He gives the signal and sets into motion the whole film.
Simon works for, or heads up, an organization of vigilantes who mete out justice as they deem fit. Any perp who slips by on a technicality, a repeat offender that a lenient judge has allowed yet another chance to reform, or just the most vile scum on the planet are their prey. In short, they cut the red-tape and deliver “justice” and fill plenty of body-bags in the process. To whit, Will’s wife’s attacker is dispatched, but it isn’t a professional who does the dirty deed, it’s a normal guy, just like Will, who agreed to take Simon’s help in his own vendetta. Simon’s payment for his work, you see, is that when he calls on you to do something, you do it. Kinda like the old mob ruse, “you’ll just owe me a favor . . . someday.”
Eventually, six-months later, Will gets tapped to turn in his favor, and at first it is simple stuff, follow around a guy, give signals to Simon’s team when he is where he is supposed to be, just light surveillance work. But, as with most thrillers, things start to crank up and Will is asked to ultimately do the wet work and lullaby this pedophile, smut-peddler. He refuses, of course, because as I said, he is a pussy. But, to his credit, in more ways than one, he looks before he leaps. He doesn’t just assume Simon is on the up and up. And, here is where I got pissed about The Star Chamber too, if memory serves, when Douglas’ character has the group take care of his problems, he is fine, but when the lines start to get fuzzy on who is deemed worthy of execution, he rats on the whole group. In this case, Will was paid in blood, and thusly, his debt owed was blood, yet he shirked from his duty.
In a very cliched ending, with a bit of a twist I kinda saw coming, the tables are turned on Simon’s team, the good-guys and bad-guys are hard to pin-point and the action picks up towards the end. But, there was some confusion, on my part, about where the pieces were placed at the end . . . and how they managed to arrive on the board in the first place. It became a bit like watching a chess match, actually, sans the intellectual intrigue.
Still, as I said before, this was a thriller, it was thrilling, but it never really made me think and it isn’t one that I think will even have a high cult following. But, I could be wrong, The Star Chamber hasn’t been out for years, so maybe dudes in their early twenties will dig the concept of a secret organization hell-bent on vigilante justice. To them, maybe it will be something novel – but I just didn’t get anything spectacular out of Seeking Justice.