Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SEEKING JUSTICE - Cage Back In His Element

SEEKING JUSTICE (crime drama)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Carpenter, Harold Perrineau, Xander Berkeley, Monica Acosta, Joe Chrest and Donna Duplantier
Director: Roger Donaldson
Screenplay by Todd Hickey
Time: 108 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Nicolas Cage and January Jones in SEEKING JUSTICE

PREAMBLE: Dogged by box-office flops over the past few years, Nic Cage's jinx seems to cast a pall over this suspense thriller. The title, revised from 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps', sounds rather mundane to begin with but this is definitely one of the 'better' Nic Cage films and it certainly benefits from his performance.

The problem with this movie lies in its script. Set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Seeking Justice has an interesting premise. However, director Roger Donaldson fails to explore it fully - and opts for more melodramatic but semi-relevant conclusion.

Guy Pearce and Cage

WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Nick Gerard (Cage) leads an uneventful life as a school teacher and a loving husband to Laura (January Jones). He spends his evenings playing chess with his colleague Jimmy (Harold Perrineau) while Laura rehearses her part in an orchestra. This routine changes when Laura is brutally raped one night. At the hospital, as Nick agonises over his wife's assault, a man who calls himself Simon (Guy Pearce) approaches him with an offer to deal with his wife's rapist in the way that the police and the justice system cannot. In return, he has to do some 'favours' for the group that Simon represents.

Initially, Nick is appalled by the idea of vigilante justice. However, when he sees what the rapist has done to Laura's spirit, he agrees. Indeed, Nick is glad that the rape trauma is finally over... but his nightmare is just starting!

HITS & MISSES: I am glad that this one does not play like an updated version of Death Wish or Taken. Seeking Justice is more complex and complicated than those flicks - before the plot gets sidetracked after the second half, that is. Cage and Jones are highly creditable for their roles as an ordinary couple trapped in extraordinary circumstances and situations. And it is easy to sympathise with them, especially with Cage's Nick as he grapples with the problem of shaking off from the shackles of Simon's vigilante group. Jones's Laura seems to have been dismissed rather early in the movie. Donaldson would not delve into the after-effects of her trauma, opting to concentrate on Nick instead.

Jennifer Carpenter (of TV's Dexter fame) is also underused as Laura's best friend, while Pearce is suitable enigmatic and menacing as Sam, a role he can play in his sleep. Another thing I like about Donaldson's directing is his allusions to Hurricane Katrina, comparing its devastation of the city to the psychological assault faced by Nick and Laura. The movie claims that after Katrina, New Orleans folk have taken it upon themselves to keep the city safe, doing whatever it takes. However, Donaldson and scripter Todd Hickey fail to explain how the city-wide vigilante scheme works, and they leave gaping holes in the narrative.

THE LOWDOWN: One of Nic Cage's better efforts.


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