Directed by Roger Donaldson
Otherwise preposterous from start to finish, the Nicolas Cage thriller Seeking Justice can be commended for exactly three displays of restraint. The rape that sets the frantic plot in motion is kept predominantly off-camera. The story seldom resorts to that tired “no one believes the hero is innocent” staple. And director Roger Donaldson—who does not blanch at excess—allows his notoriously cataclysmic star only one outburst, though it’s a doozie: Cage’s English teacher bellows the virtues, as exercised by Shakespeare, of writing down violent thoughts versus acting on them, to a class of indifferent inner city thugs.
Elsewhere, Donaldson proves an indefatigable noise enthusiast, as he sets up rapid-fire chase sequences along roaring highways, at a clanking demolition derby (a mere excuse to plug the Superdome) and finally at an abandoned mall with no shortage of high drops. Some of these set pieces are admittedly nerve-racking—chiefly, the foot chase on the freeway—and some are enjoyably silly (two bad guys spill onto a moving escalator; Cage plays chicken with a pursuing cop). But generally, the screeching, the jump cuts, the ominous tinkling-glass score, distract from an already convoluted story.
That story involves the violent rape of Cage’s wife (January Jones, in a pouty, pedestrian role), the vigilante group (led by a creepily hairless Guy Pearce) that offers to knock off the rapist, and the chaos that ensues when Cage accepts their offer. Apparently, the “small favor” Pearce asks of Cage in exchange involves his murdering a similarly reprehensible offender. Furthermore, our frazzled protagonist discovers that just about everyone in New Orleans is mysteriously in-the-know, either supporting or turning a blind eye to the vigilantes.
The plot thickens to a degree that is less intriguing than muddy, and while Donaldson and screenwriters Todd Hickey and Robert Tannen have some winking fun with their own outlandish ideas, they don’t wink quite enough to render Seeking Justice a high-camp affair. With its unimaginative title and nagging whizz-boom effects, not even Cage can elevate it above straight-to-video status.
Opens March 16