Seeking Justice (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Seeking Justice (2012)

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I’m not a fan of making lists, especially when it comes to writing a review.  Those of you kind enough to stick with this site day after day know that I try and put some kind of analysis into these reviews.  But sometimes I watch a movie that is so wrongheaded and simplistic the simplest and most honest response would be a review consisting of entirely two lines.

Query:  What’s wrong with Seeking Justice?

Answer:  The film started successfully.

This movie occupies an incredibly uncomfortable sphere of thrillers, the kind where men are put through trouble because of the problems the women they love have.  In this case problems directly translates into rape and the troubles of man are statewide conspiracies designed to test the love they have for their women, and sometimes children, after they’re raped by guilting them into murdering other people who may or may not have done the same.

I’m sure whoever was casting the film got a bleakly ironic chuckle that Guy Pearce gets to play a shadowy mastermind who sends oblivious men on confusing and morally ambiguous assassinations.  At least, I hope they laughed, because this movie commits all the major cardinal sins against cinema I can think of.  It might have been able to create a couple more along the way, but that would indicate a level of effort this film just didn’t have in it.The movie opens on a bewildering scene, shot in what appears to be Candid Camera Cam, where an unidentified nervous man talks about zombie rabbits jumping then is promptly pushed off the side of a building by the world’s most vengeful SUV.  In the interest of fairness, I was completely wrong about the zombie part and instead the rabbits are hungry.  You see because rabbits are small but if you get enough of them together they might cause some damage.  This is what screenwriters call a theme.  I think.

Whatever, after nervous man goes splat we watch one half of an adoring couple rekindling the spark of their relationship with their totally disinterested better half.  Since the former is Nicolas Cage hamming it up with his worst come hither smile I had some hope.  But the latter is played by January Jones, an actress so abysmally dull outside of her role in Mad Men it’s a wonder she hasn’t collapsed in on herself.  They display their love with intensely awkward grinding whose only purpose hints at an unhealthily long phallus from Cage.

More awkward cross cutting follows as they reengage their daily life and a chess game with a colleague is edited with the brutal rape and beating of  the wife.  In case you missed the rape scene director Roger Donaldson makes certain it’s not forgotten as events not four minutes old are repeated ad nauseum in brief flash backs as our belabored husband grabs a candy bar, drinks from a water fountain, and other exciting things we expect from a taut thriller.  The movie’s respect and taste for the most horrible sin in existence extends to these flashbacks and nothing else as Mrs. I’m Going To Avenge My Wife Now completely forgets she was raped when the film cuts to six months later.

Oh, also during this time Mr. decides to partake in a super-secret conspiracy of avenging angels who kill the kinds of folks that perform sexual assaults.  They’re actually evil.  There’s the plot and the shocking twist.  Le gasp.The film’s ability to completely move beyond the brutal rape of his wife and into techno-thriller land is baffling and in horrific taste.  There’s hardly a mention of the rape again after those opening moments of violence and the rest of the film has to deal with this fact as the man’s burden.  Oops, silly man, letting his wife be raped and then getting caught in the machinations of the machine that allowed this whole thing to happen just so he could be a pawn.

There’s absolutely no attempt to reconcile the two threads together and it casts the entire film in an uneasy shadow it never wants to or tries to acknowledge.  Instead the director and writer (Robert Tannen) assume we’re fine sitting aside and playing the game of “spot the character actor who will be totally evil in the end” and “let’s hope Nic Cage does something interesting for the sake of our collective sanity”.  Since I was hoping for Cage’s acting to save my sanity, if not moral core, I realized this film went so far down the rabbit hole seeing it to the end was a fruitless task.

Technically the film is a mess.  Multiple and extensive moments of Nic Cage driving and walking are treated as tip-top thriller material.  Scenes that just happened are repeated over and over again to ensure maximum hand holding.  The shadowy conspiracy capable of moving through buildings like Casper the Plot Manipulating Ghost loses all control once the absolute minimum of investigative work is done.

Then there’s that tiny matter of rape, and how it inconveniences men most of all.  I’ll take a lesson from Guy Pearce’s filmography, and let the ache of the past melt away into a clean slate.

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Seeking Justice (2012)

Directed by Roger Donaldson.
Written by Robert Tannen.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Guy Pearce, and January Jones.

Posted by Andrew

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