Nicolas Cage’s career has been amazing to watch and I don’t necessarily mean that positively. The once promising actor and Academy Award winner is now known more for his current long streak of bad movies. But yet Cage continues to pump out these pictures every year. That brings us to “Seeking Justice”, his latest film co-starring Guy Pearce and January Jones. This action thriller isn’t the sharpest movie you’ll find nor is it one that will stick with you long after watching it. But I found it to be a fairly entertaining picture and definitely better that Cage’s most recent efforts.
Cage plays Will Gerard, a high school English and literature teacher in New Orleans. He has a great life. He loves his job and he just recently celebrated his wedding anniversary with his lovely wife Laura (Jones). One night as Will is hanging out with his best friend Jimmy (Harold Perrineau), Laura is attacked and raped while walking to her car from a concert. Later, as Will is sitting in the hospital waiting room, he is approached by a mysterious man named Simon (Pearce). Simon tells him he works for an organization that knows who raped Laura and can take care of the rapist in ways the police can’t. In return, Will has to promise to do the organization a small favor at a later date. Will struggles with the decision but ends up saying yes which catapults him into a mess he never anticipated.
The idea behind the story isn’t a bad one and I found myself interested in the whole grief-stricken husband seeking justice from a secret organization thing. Cage actually gives a fairly solid performance as a very ‘anti-action hero’ hero. January Jones is also good individually as his wife. The problem is they have no real chemistry whatsoever and I had a hard time believing in their relationship. Putting that aside, their relationship takes some interesting turns as she copes with her life after such a violent crime and he deals with the decision he made regarding her assailant. Unfortunately these and several other key plot points are never fleshed out. For example, there’s one point in the movie where Laura is just magically over the trauma of her rape. It’s as if the film just decided to drop it altogether. Another example is when Laura finally finds out what Will did. We never see them wrestle over his decision that has put them in such danger. There are several things like this that feel terribly short-changed.
Another issue I had was with the abrupt and almost jarring jumps the movie makes in the first half. This too is related to what feels like shortcuts in the storytelling. There are mammoth emotional holes where the movie skips from one moment to another. And it’s unfortunate because the movie is never boring. There is some good tension and there are some cool twists even though none of them are particularly that surprising. And even though the film ends up taking a pretty conventional path, I still found it kept my interest despite the shortcomings of the script.
I’ve talked about Cage and Jones. Guy Pearce, who is always great, has a lot of fun with his shady Simon character. When I first saw him he reminded me of Paul Newman’s character early on in “The Verdict”. Newman was checking the newspapers for car accident fatalities then attending their funerals where he shamelessly slipped his lawyer business card to the grieving family. Simon hits up Will at the most vulnerable time – an almost predatory approach. Pearce slithers in and out of his scenes and he was the best part of the film even though his character doesn’t have as much mystery behind him as he first leads you to believe.
“Seeking Justice” isn’t a bad movie. In fact it’s a considerable step up for Cage. But is that really saying anything? There are clear issues with the plot and tone and the story ends up with the traditional loud, action-driven finale. But it’s hard to really rail against a movie that did keep my interest throughout and had some really solid moments. Plus Pearce is Pearce which is always a good thing. As I mentioned earlier, “Seeking Justice” isn’t a movie that will stay with you very long, but it does manage to entertain.