Seeking Justice is a film that was released in a limited number of theaters back in March and was quickly dismissed by most critics as “a typical potboiler with another phoned-in performance from Nicolas Cage” according to Rotten Tomatoes, where the movie stands at a measly 24%. So imagine my surprise when I pop in the Blu-Ray and discover that the film is really not quite that bad. Cage has never exactly been a master thespian, but as far as potboiling goes, the film has a bit to offer.
Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage) is an English teacher who is married to Laura (January Jones), a musician. One night, Laura is assaulted by a stranger, putting her in the hospital. It is there that Will is approached by Simon (Guy Pearce), who offers him the chance to get revenge on the man who did this to his wife. Will is obviously skeptical of the offer, but Simon further explains that he is part of a secret organization that seeks justice, only asking for a favor in return.
Will eventually accepts, and not much later, is given proof that the deed has been carried out. A few months later, he receives a phone call from Simon, who is now calling upon the favor that Will owes them. At first, it is nothing particularly complicated: delivering an envelope to a mailbox and then following a woman around at a zoo. However, Will soon finds out that he bargained for more than he can handle when Simon asks him to commit murder.
OK, sure, that’s a plotpoint you can see coming from a mile away, especially given that you can easily tell that Simon called in another favor from someone who owed the organization to have the assaulter killed, but what the film does do rather well is build suspense. You do have to wade through a few clichés, but you’ll probably be on the edge of your seat while doing it, because, as you can probably figure, Will does not want to kill anyone, which leads to complications between Simon and himself, as well as Laura, whom Will never told about the arrangement.
One of those clichés that the film works with is the secret organization where it’s hard to tell who is involved and who isn’t. In many cases, like this one, it seems like everyone is part of it, but the film actually appears to be having fun with the concept, particularly in the goofy signals and procedures. For example, after Simon has made the offer, he tells Will that, if he accepts, he is to go to a row of vending machines and buy two of a certain kind of snack. This actually comes off as more humorous than serious, making it seem like the filmmakers are merely having fun with it.
Later on in the film, when he gets the upper hand, Will has a bit of fun with it himself. After having been told to do certain things throughout the film, he leads Simon through a pointless procedure when all they’re trying to do is make an exchange in a crowded area. Again, we have the filmmakers pointing at this being more of a humorous aspect rather than a serious one, which ends up working in the film’s favor.
Part of the fun of watching a Nicolas Cage movie is getting to rate his performance on the “Nic Cage Insanity Scale.” As most of you probably know, Cage has had some very eccentric performances in his career such as the well-done action flick Face/Off and the horrible remake of The Wicker Man (NOT THE BEES!!!). However, this turns out to be one of his rare mellow performances, that is, one that doesn’t really allow him to go crazy at any point. In fact, this is probably the most calm I’ve seen him since the National Treasure films.
One of the good choices for the film was getting Guy Pearce to play the villain. Pearce, who recently had a bit part in Prometheus, has had quite a career performing in such films as Memento, L.A. Confidential, and The King’s Speech. Here, he does a good job at exuding the sly trustworthiness in his first scene, which eventually transforms into a sly “don’t make us have to kill you” kind of attitude. Since he usually plays a good guy/hero, it was a treat getting to see this side of him.
The technical aspects of the Blu-Ray are done quite well. The 2.35:1, 1080p transfer is sharp and crystal clear, with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track reaching the same high level of quality. Dialogue is loud and lucid and not overwhelmed by the film’s score. Sounds effects are likewise mixed in well, which, for a film like this that depends a lot on action, is quite important to get right.
What was not done right, as I find myself having to say far too often, were the special features. All that’s included on the disc are a featurette entitled “Seeking Justice: Behind the Scenes” and the theatrical trailer. The featurette runs a brief seven minutes, a couple of which are just clips from the film, and barely begins to scratch the surface on the making of the film. It basically features some of the cast and crew (Cage, Jones, and director Roger Donaldson) telling us what the movie is about as well as giving us a few small insights into the characters. In short, it’s not worth your time.
Donaldson has given us some interesting films, such as The Recruit, The Bank Job, and Thirteen Days. Seeking Justice is probably not going to be one he is remembered for, but he, along with screenwriter Robert Tannen, have crafted a film with the sole purpose of entertaining an audience with its suspense, which is something it does pretty well. Sure, you have to put up with a few clichés, but if you can get past those, you just might find yourself having a good time.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.