Seeking Justice [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Anchor Bay Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (20th August 2012).
The Film

Has Nic Cage paid off his infamous debts yet?

I’m asking because I’d really like to see him scale back on accepting projects. Now, I like watching Nic Cage do his thing as much as any other self-respecting film fan but there comes a time when he’s got to be selective with his offerings. It seems like he’s got a movie out in theaters every month – wide release or not – and they tend to share one common thread: Cage phoning it in. He phones it in so much that AT&T should start charging him for wasting so many precious minutes. Back in the days when Cage wasn’t quite so ubiquitous in theaters, filmgoers could look forward to seeing his films wondering whether or not he’d be calm, subdued Cage… or the maniacal, over-the-top Cage most of us love. These days, though, it’s usually neither of the two. Cage has been resting on his laurels for a number of years; it’s a wonder his stock still has any value.

Lucky for him, people still do want to work with him. Talented people, in fact. He most recently bombed out in Joel Schumacher’s “Trespass” (2011) alongside Nicole Kidman, and now here he is working under the guidance of Roger Donaldson – director of “The Bounty” (1984), “Species” (1995), and “The Bank Job” (2008) – on “Seeking Justice” (2011), which unfortunately managed to bomb even harder. I found it odd that this latest film from Donaldson opened in only a handful of theaters since “The Bank Job” was well-received critically, if not commercially. Although, it’s not hard to see why it got the shaft once you watch it.

Will Gerard (Nic Cage) is a high school teacher with a beautiful wife, Laura (January Jones), who plays in the local orchestra. One night, Laura is attacked, beaten and raped. While grieving in the hospital, Will is approached by Simon (Guy Pearce), a man who claims he can bring the man who did this to justice; all Will has to do is return the favor later down the line. He makes the emotionally-charged decision, and within the hour Laura’s rapist is dead (seriously the efficiency with which this is done will baffle you). Things get complicated, however, when Will is asked to do something for the company Simon represents. He reluctantly participates, but the aftermath reveals secrets and lies that have completely jeopardized Will’s life. Now, he has to try uncovering the people behind the organization before he and his wife are casualties.

The film is very uneven. Things start off typical enough for a revenge film, and then they get interesting once Simon shows up. The idea of a vigilante network operating outside the jurisdiction of the police is nothing new – just watch William Lustig’s “Vigilante” (1983) starring Robert Forster – but it’s still a damn good one, and I’m not sure a film has properly represented it yet. Simon, the people he works for, the people who work for him… it’s all built up as a clandestine, cloak-and-dagger type of operation that has a global reach and an army of members hiding in plain sight. It’s the kind of mystery that can keep a standard revenge film from going stale too quickly. But all of that evaporates once Will starts to learn about the group. One thing I generally abhor in films is when characters learn things quickly for the sake of convenience. Will runs around to a few specific locations, one of which is a funeral where he manages to find the perfect group from which to extract loads of exposition, and all of a sudden the guy is an expert on how to play the game against these guys. I know I have to let films strain credibility, but a high school teacher versus a well-organized group of hired hitmen isn’t exactly going to end in Will’s favor. By the time the end rolls around there’s zero tension. You’ll just be waiting for Will, or his more likely his wife (movies love to do that!), to waste the Bad Guy and get the credits rolling.

Speaking of the Bad Guy, Pearce deserves so much better than this. He’s one of those actors who fanboys and serious film aficionados love, yet he can’t seem to get any decent work outside of crappy b-movies and cameos in bigger films that are so quick you’d miss him if you turned away from the screen for a second. I thought he did a commendable job considering the script he was given. Simon is an interesting, enigmatic character for much of the picture, but once we learn about him and his motivations, he loses a lot of that villainous intrigue. When the third act rolls around, he’s reduced to spouting off crappy Bad Guy lines and shooting people. Guy, if by some miracle you read this, fire your agent and get someone who wants to find you the parts you deserve. This is a role even Eric Roberts would’ve turned down.

I was trying to think of a more eloquent way to word this, but I can’t: January Jones is a shitty actress. Does anyone have the number of the lumberjack who carved her out of oak? She’s so wooden Cage could have hollowed her out and ridden her like a canoe to freedom. Apparently, when a woman is raped and beaten it has the same effect on her as being really sleepy, since Jones displays all the trauma of someone who broke a nail after suffering what should have been pretty much the worst night of her entire frigging life. The only reason she worked in “X-Men: First Class” (2011) is because her character is supposed to be an ice queen. Her participation in the finale made me groan since it was clear where everything was headed.

Added bonus: Xander Berkeley is in this. He has a Southern accent.

Video

Cinematographer David Tattersall has done well to ensure that even if the film isn’t good, at least it LOOKS good. He seems to have a knack for making terrible, but pretty films. Just check out his resume: “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (1999), “007 James Bond: Die Another Day” (2003), “Speed Racer” (2008) – all gorgeous films that make you want to kill the writers. “Seeking Justice” isn’t quite in the same league as those others, but it might be in the ballpark thanks to a fairly stunning 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image. There is some great depth to the image, really lending itself well to high definition. Colors look sharp and bold, with a slightly gritty appearance to this universe. The picture sports a fine layer of film grain which aids in reproducing a filmic aesthetic. Hell, they even managed to make January Jones look like a human! Viewers will revel in the positive aspects of this transfer, maybe even enough to forget how bad the film they’re watching actually is.

Audio

I have to admit, I was a bit unimpressed by the film’s English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit. I got a little worried when the film started off, as the audio had a very compressed quality to it. Things opened up a bit more soon thereafter, but I can’t say this was one of those high octane experiences to remember. Dialogue is clear and has a strong presence. The action of the film manages to elevate the track to some degree, but I just never felt like it had much of an impact compared to similar titles. The surrounds are used effectively when appropriate, but I thought some of the rear mix was a little on the low side. Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

“Seeking Justice” clearly wasn’t seeking to be a feature-laden package, since this Blu-ray contains but one lone featurette and the film's theatrical trailer.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

“Seeking Justice: Behind the Scenes” (480p) is a featurette that runs for 7 minutes and 8 seconds. This piece is automatically elevated thanks to the participation of The Cage, who clearly finds deeper meaning in the film and his character than I ever could have hoped to. Director Roger Donaldson also pops up to talk a bit about the project. The interviews are intercut with some decent b-roll footage.

The film’s theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

The disc also features the bookmarks feature.

DISC TWO: DVD

This is a DVD copy of the feature film with the same featurette and trailer on the Blu-ray.

Packaging

The 2-disc set comes housed in an amaray eco-case with some exceptionally bland artwork adorning the cover.

Overall

I was secretly hoping this would be a solid revenge flick that for whatever reason didn’t make any waves; it’s not. Cage lazily chugs along, towing his dead weight wife January Jones with him. Guy Pearce starts off mildly menacing, but loses that edge once the plot progresses. Donaldson is an able director, though, and he manages to keep a steady pace for this boring potboiler.

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: B Extras: D+ Overall: C

 


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