The movie-loving world years ago split into two camps — those who have given up on Nicolas Cage, considering everything he touches these days to be tainted, and those who still see the actor underneath the bad, or at least weak choices.
To those of us clinging to the Cage who once was, the offscreen marriages, antics and tax difficulties are just more obstacles for him to overcome. And the manic, over-the-top performances? Well, what do you expect from a guy whose real life “issues” would turn mere mortals into blithering hysterics.
“Seeking Justice” is a routine thriller in the “Strangers on a Train/Star Chamber” mold — crime victims promised swift, brutal and sure vigilante justice.
And the catch?
“We may ask a favor of you at some point in the future.”
Cage plays — and generally underplays — Will Gerard, a tolerant, caring, Saab-driving New Orleans high school teacher whose cellist wife (January Jones) is raped. Will is still in the hospital, ion shock with her, when a stranger approaches. “Simon” (Guy Pearce) promises him closure, vengeance and satisfaction. Simon’s “organization” knows who did it. All Will has to do is say the word — or buy two candy bars at the hospital vending machine, and the wheels will go into motion.
So Will does. And that’s when the real trouble starts. How far does this “organization” reach? Who can he trust and what will they want him to do?
Action veteran Roger Donaldson (” )” ratchets up the tempo to match Will’s growing agitation over what is happening. The camera closes in on Cage as his eyes start to bug out (Cage fans wait for this moment, like Wahlberg fans wait for the “I’m COMING for you” phone call). That’s when the chase, and the mayhem, truly begin. All that’s missing is the Cage as Merry Madman moment, but “”Ghostrider II” had enough of those to tide us over.
“Seeking Justice” is a puzzle easily decoded, but Donaldson finds enough blind alleys and chases in the script to keep us distracted. Random moments catch the eye — a New Orleands jazz funeral procession, at night. And random scenes add a dose of humor. Will meets the biggest pun in school after he’s escaped from the cops, and glories in telling the now-fearful kid that he’s on the run from a murder rap.
It telegraphs its punches, and truthfully, “Justice” isn’t much more interesting or entertaining than most of the dreck that the workaholic Nic has thrown our way these past ten years. But he keeps getting up off the mat and coming back for more, even if much of his audience isn’t.
MPAA Rating:R for violence, language and brief sexuality
Cast: Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce
Credits: Directed by Roger Donaldson, screenplay by Robert Tennen. An Anchor Bay release.
Running time: 1:45