Justice (or Seeking Justice)

22 May

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writers: Todd Hickey (story), Robert Tannen (screenplay), and 1 more credit

Stars: Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 105 minutes

 

 

 

The urban fear of crime is a subject that has powered a few controversial films and books. It is often blended with a related fear of immigrants and immigration. The result, from Magnum Force to Death Wish (set to be remade) and to Sin City, is more often than not dark and dramatic with plenty of parallel debate about vigilantism and appropriate responses. In times of recession these themes are prone to resurface and in Justice we have a fairly interesting take on it.

Nicolas Cage, who starts off in full over-acting style, but then reins it back in, is a high school teacher in a deprived part of New Orleans. He is inspiring for his students, clearly of liberal sensibilities and he has a young and beautiful wife (January Jones) who is a musician. On her way home one evening, Jones is attacked and raped. Cage is horrified by his wife’s injuries and he is feeling highly frustrated and vengeful when a stranger, played rather well by Guy Pearce, offers to right the wrong. The deal is simple; Pearce represents a “few citizens seeking justice” and they can punish the rapist if Cage agrees to return the ‘favour’ at a later date.

The set up to Justice is good and the first hour fully held my attention. After a shaky start, Cage settles into his role nicely and Pearce grows more sinister as he starts to manipulate him. The story unfolds at a good pace, but accelerates in the final 45 minutes and that increase in speed can’t quite cover the holes in the plot. In essence Justice becomes a more traditional action thriller and the intriguing conspiracy theme suffers for it. By the end this film is not completely ridiculous, but it is a bit too big and baggy and felt to me like a missed opportunity.

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