Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Seeking Justice

24 February 2012 by Nicholas in Films

Seeking Justice stars Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce and is the story of how one man becomes drawn into vigilantism following an attack on his wife. It shows how someone in a normal life can decide to make rash and potentially lethal decisions in the heat of the moment when they believe that the system around them is failing.

This is Cage’s second film set in post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. The other is Bad Lieutenant and, I have to say, I think Seeking Justice is more effective. I do tend to like Guy Pearce, but he does seem to make some underwhelming films where he is the only bright spot in them. This isn’t quite that bad, but it does leave you feeling that there was a better film hinging on the strong central concept that didn’t get made.

The idea of ordinary citizens banding together to engage in vigilantism is a strong premise for a film, and that certainly seems to be where the story starts, as an angry and grief stricken Nicolas Cage agrees to allow vigilantes to attack his wife’s attacker on his behalf. They duly do so, asking that he may provide them a favour at a later date to help them out. He agrees, and his wife’s attacker is killed.

The group then manoeuvre Cage into following a woman around and then coerce him into killing someone for them. This is where the film really starts to unwind, with the group clearly becoming the villains of the piece and their actions being inarguably wrong. Any potential depth that the film could have had by making a moral conflict about the ends justifying the means is lost when the story degenerates into a routine thriller where the group has become corrupt and everything that they claim to be against.

Cage is good in the film. I know that he often overacts and can be one note and annoying, but he is muted and even his hair isn’t ridiculous. He seems to have found his footing again in recent years, after making one too many films with Jerry Bruckheimer and doing his ranting and overacting thing. Here he is believable as a conflicted and not particularly strong man.

Pearce, by comparison, is relatively wasted. He isn’t scary and doesn’t get a lot to do other than be menacing and mysterious. However, the film is fairly formulaic and you know that he will eventually lose as he is the villain of the piece. The film is also contrived, with Cage managing to elude the police and remain unrecognised entirely too easily.

Overall, I thought the film was passable, but nothing like as good as it could have been had it explored its central premise more. Cage was surprisingly good, but Pearce was nearly utterly wasted.