In order for a movie like Seeking Justice to really work, it has to connect with the audience on an emotional level, making them ponder what they would do if faced with the same circumstances as the protagonist.
In the case of this revenge thriller, it boils down to this — what would you do if, in the stressful moments after you learn of a brutal attack on your wife, you were given the chance to exact revenge on the perpetrator with little chance for repercussions?
That’s an intriguing scenario that forms the basis of this vigilante potboiler, which jettisons any sense of realistic goodwill with viewers by detouring into a series of silly plot twists and half-cocked conspiracy theories.
Nicolas Cage stars as Will, a New Orleans schoolteacher whose musician wife (January Jones) is recovering in the hospital after apparently being the victim of a random assault following an evening rehearsal.
That’s when Will is approached by Simon (Guy Pearce), a mysterious man who offers revenge for the crime in exchange for a vague, undermined favor in the future. So Will buys two candy bars from the vending machine and accepts the deal.
He didn’t stop to consider, of course, that such a knee-jerk reaction would eventually put his own life in danger as the agreed-upon favor spirals out of control, threatening Will’s marriage and his job, and making him paranoid about the intentions of every stranger he meets.
There is some talent on both sides of the camera, but everyone seems to be merely collecting a paycheck here, including veteran director Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job), whose murky visuals don’t utilize the unique bayou landscapes to the film’s benefit.
Cage’s often amusing array of eccentricities might seem an ideal fit for the role of the highly educated if high-strung husband, but he can’t rescue a logically deficient script by Robert Tannen (Even Money) that settles for clichés and contrivances at almost every turn.
There are a few taut and mildly suspenseful sequences in the first half of the film, but by the final reel, Seeking Justice has run completely off the rails.
Rated R, 105 minutes.