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Blu-Ray Review: Seeking Justice

‘Weirdly involving from start to finish… More high camp than the filmmakers may have realized…’

 

With businesslike, movie-of-the-week efficiency, Anchor Bay’s new rape revenge outing Seeking Justice, currently available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, methodically explores the subgenre’s familiar corridors with brisk aplomb, but with oddly sterile disregard for its requisite messy pathologies. Featuring Nicholas Cage as a timid inner city schoolteacher whose domestic tranquility is uprooted following his wife’s violent assault, the film riffs with hacktastic glee on a broad host of genre conventions, straddling the line just deftly enough between genuine intrigue and utter absurdity to maintain popcorn-crunching watchability despite many casually bizarre plot holes, and a slick, detached thematic approach confusingly inappropriate to its subject matter.

Cage plays Will Gerard, a New Orleans resident and public high school teacher whose wife, Laura (January Jones), is brutally raped in a parking lot one night while walking to her car. Devastated, Gerard is approached during the wee hours of the morning in a hospital waiting room by a suave and mysterious gentleman named Simon (Guy Pearce), who claims to be a member of a secret organization that specializes in dishing out covert vigilante justice to perpetrators of violent crime. Claiming to know the identity of Laura’s rapist, Simon cryptically offers to help Gerard in exchange for an unspecified and implicitly token future favor, and after a brief moment of conflicted hesitation, Gerard accepts.

Sure enough, Laura’s rapist is soon axed, but when Simon reappears six months later demanding repayment, Gerard is unsettled to discover that the mundane tasks he was led to expect pale in comparison to the escalating series of violent criminal acts he is forced to actually perform. Afraid for his life and on the run from the police, Gerard sets out to expose the covert syndicate that’s attempting to engulf his existence, uncovering a sordid and corrupt subterranean network of spies and vigilantes that extends deep into the most obscure corners of the city’s infrastructure.

Seeking Justice is weirdly involving from start to finish, despite being riddled with glaring plot holes and dominated generally by a sleek and glossy thematic treatment that seems glibly unconcerned with any of the darker emotional realities supposedly fueling the actions of its characters. The film’s constant, eyebrow-waggling moodiness, as well as twee semi-surreal flourishes like the symbolic vending machine purchase of something called a Forever Bar, indicate that the movie finds itself much more clever and intriguing than it genuinely is. Although its true entertainment value is more high camp than the filmmakers may have realized, however, its predictable plot twists and twitchy, one-note performances remain nonetheless inexplicably captivating, perhaps specifically because their blithe, oblivious lack of interest in any kind of depth or emotional nuance transforms them so deftly into searing and penetrating parodies of themselves.

Anchor Bay’s presentation is relatively perfunctory, with a token making-of featurette and a trailer rounding out an otherwise utterly stripped-down Blu-ray. It’s hard to deny the strength of Seeking Justice’s wheedling middlebrown entertainment value, though it fails to hit the high emotional and dramatic notes it appears to strive for. It’s a sweetly naïve and rather silly revenge conspiracy thriller, but by established standards, still more or less recommendable.