Title: Seeking Justice
Director: Roger Donaldson (‘The Recruit,’ ‘The Bank Job’)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce
Grief is a powerful, motivating factor in how people react to heinous, senseless crimes. People feel the need to take justice into their own hands, as they don’t trust the police to apprehend those who have wronged them. The new action thriller ‘Seeking Justice’ is an intriguing example of the extreme actions people take immediately after a loved one is wrongfully attacked. In the moment, they’re intrigued by vigilante justice, but as their initial shock begins to fade, they realize that their well-meaning actions can actually make matters worse.
‘Seeking Justice’ follows happily married New Orleans high school English teacher Will Gerard (played by Nicolas Cage), whose wife, Laura (portrayed by January Jones), is brutally attacked one night after leaving rehearsal for the orchestra she works for. While waiting at the hospital to hear more about her condition, Will is approached by Simon (played by Guy Pearce), who makes him an intriguing offer. Simon, who is a leader of a secret organization, will have someone kill Laura’s attackers, if exchange for a favor from Will in the near future.
Grief-stricken, Will agrees to become part of the dangerous underground vigilante operation. While trying to protect Laura from the truth, he soon realizes that his quest for justice is leading to deadly consequences he never could have imagined.
‘Seeking Justice’ intriguingly reflects many people’s desires to take matters into their own hands when they’ve been wronged by society, and the actions they take when the legal system fails them. Director Roger Donaldson, who is known for helming such crime thrillers as ‘The Recruit’ and ‘The Bank Job,’ created a memorable, character-driven action drama that allowed Cage to fully connect with his well-meaning character. Forgoing his recent big-budget flops that too heavily relied on special effects, the Academy Award-winning actor proved that Will is an ordinary American struggling to do what’s right, as he protects his wife. He knows that Simon asking him to kill a man, in return for carrying out vengeance on his wife’s attacker, is morally and legally wrong, and will do anything to stop the organization’s dangerous cycle from continuing.
While ‘Seeking Justice’ does feature some interesting action sequences, such as Simon and his enforcers chasing Will on a highway when he refuses to hand over evidence against the organization, the most compelling aspect of the film is the internal struggle Will is facing over his involvement with Simon. While Simon is initially portrayed as wanting to help Will and Laura, as the plot unfolds, Will sees him for who he truly is. Will realizes that no matter how much he wanted his wife’s attacker to be punished for hurting her, he is essentially no better by taking punishment into his own hands.
As the action thriller’s plot unfolds, Simon is increasingly portrayed as veering from what he feels the vigilant organization’s main focus is. Pearce initially plays Simon as genuinely wanting to do the right thing and rid society of those who intentionally harm others. But as Will continuously questions his decisions over who should be killed, Simon psychologically unravels, showing that in essence, he’s no better than those he’s tracking. The continuous battle between Will’s desire to end violence and Simon’s motivation to continue the vigilante cycle showcases the battle over doing what’s right for ourselves and what’s right for society.
‘Seeking Justice’ is a tribute to Cage’s early, character-driven roles, in which the plot focuses on his internal struggles and motivations, as opposed to his more recent action films that are only packed with special effects. While Will’s involvement in the vigilante organization isn’t something viewers can truly relate to, his determination to protect and save his wife surely is. Simon’s ruthless nature and determination to control New Orleans’ crime is perfectly balanced by Will’s well-meaning nature.
Written by: Karen Benardello