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Not much makes sense in Roger Donaldson‘s Seeking Justice, a goofy little thriller that jettisons logic anytime it interferes with squeezing in more paranoia. Neither the script’s conspiracies nor Nicolas Cage‘s performance is weird enough to trump the film’s generic feel, a low-rent vibe unlikely to wow at the box office.
Cage plays Will Gerard, a schoolteacher whose intellect is more told — via stale nods to Shakespeare and chess — than demonstrated by anything he does in the film. When his wife Laura (January Jones) is raped, mystery man Simon (Guy Pearce) offers Will a mysterious shot at extrajudicial justice: Representing a shadowy “group that” — dramatic pause — “deals with people,” he says he’ll have the rapist killed if Will promises to do some undetermined, probably minor (yeah, right) favor in the future.
Obviously, Will is going to have to do something criminal. What’s not obvious as the plot progresses is what Pearce’s Mephistopheles character has to gain here: Yes, his group is forcing innocent people to do their dirty work, but the innocents are so inept and require such labor-intensive, attention-drawing manipulation that the conspirators would be better off doing things themselves. In Will’s case, the assigned felony practically takes care of itself, and still the loose ends are plentiful enough to draw full attention from both law enforcement and the media, sending Cage’s character on a detective mission to clear his good name.
When the cloak-and-dagger affectations in Robert Tannen‘s script aren’t distractingly dumb — buy two candy bars to signal your acceptance of our Faustian pact — they have the flavor of tinfoil-hat fantasies that could only be enjoyable in a film that connects dots with some panache or cleverness. Seeking Justice has neither, and the movie’s attempts to pretend it takes a rape victim’s psychological trauma seriously only muddy the mood further.
Opens: Friday, March 16 (Anchor Bay)
Production companies: Endgame Entertainment, Material Pictures, Ram Bergman, Maguire Entertainment
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones, Jennifer Carpenter, Harold Perrineau, Xander Berkeley
Director: Roger Donaldson
Screenwriter: Robert Tannen
Producers: Ram Bergman, Tobey Maguire, James D. Stern
Executive producers: Julie Goldstein, Douglas Hansen, Christopher Petzel, Jenno Topping
Director of photography: David Tattersall
Production designer: J. Dennis Washington
Music: J. Peter Robinson
Costume designer: Caroline Eselin
Editor: Jay Cassidy
Rated R, 104 minutes
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