Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seeking Justice [2011]

Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce, Harold Perrineau, Xander Berkeley
Genre: Thriller
Rating: Teen
Excerpt: "What you see is what you get, and you wouldn't know if that's a good or a bad thing until you see it..."

Nick Gerard (Nicolas Cage) lives pretty much an uneventful life. He is a happily married man who divides his time teaching at a school full of teenage delinquents during the day, and he plays chess with his best friend Jimmy (Harold Perrineau) at every other night. But then everything starts to change when a former convict assaults and rapes his wife Laura (January Jones) on her way back home from work. As Nick laments this tragedy that has befallen his wife, a mysterious man who goes by the name of Simon (Guy Pearce) approach him with an offer; Either follow the system and rely on the law for justice, or they can just take matters into their own hands and serve justice straight up.

What to Expect
1. A decent thriller
2. Not really minding Nicolas Cage in the main role
3. Almost predictable, but not quite
4. Decent cuts (Malaysia)
5. Credible debate about the justice system
6. Genuine suspenseful moments

What NOT to Expect
1. A plot twist that will make you gasp
2. An ambiguous Good vs. Evil movie
Good enough for what it was. No less, no more.
First of all, a little shout out to Mikhaela for the free movie pass otherwise I would have missed this flick. But I must confess one thing, even though I'm an avid follower of the on-goings in cinema, I never knew the existence of this movie until about four hours before the screening. I'm unsure if that's a good or a bad thing, but I did went in there with zero idea of what to expect or what the movie was going to be about, and I must say I'm rather pleased with the outcome.

I don't love it, of course. But at the same time you'll be hard pressed to find anything to hate about it. However, if you did find something, well then I can only assume you're just being spiteful because this movie was made with casual movie-goers in mind, while trying hard enough not to alienate hardcore cinephiles.

If all else fails, there's always January Jones, who walks a fine line between beautiful and adorable...
Basically what that means is that it played out like any movie adapted from a John Grisham novel, where more emphasis was given on moving the story forward, with little breathing room in between the scenes for us to digest and think about what's going to happen next. But that doesn't mean you would have to be a psychic to see where they're going with the plot. It's just that the screenwriting and special effects department worked together well enough to make you forget what you already know. Kind of like Taken [2008] without all the fighting.

Of course, if you fancy yourself a hardcore cinephile, it will still be about as filling as a bowl of cornflakes.

But you know what, after doing enough mulling, I did manage to figure out the one thing that made this movie rise one notch above the 'Yeah, why not?' rating, and that is the overarching theme that wraps itself around the movie really really well. The one that had enough impact to make me wonder about it hours after I exited the cinema.

And it had nothing to do with wondering why Nicolas Cage remind me so much of Droopy...
Yeap, you guessed it. It's that whole thing with how flawed the justice system can be, and how it justified or even necessitated vigilantism. Even as a law-abiding citizen, I found it so easy to side with the vigilantes in this movie, because it's a terrible world to live in when it is considered inhuman to sentence serial rapists with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Inhuman crimes deserve inhuman punishments, that's my stand on the matter, and I can only scoff at anyone who comes back at me with a "If that is so, then what's the difference between us and them (criminals)?"

See what I did there? The theme packed enough punch to still make your head throb after watching the movie, wondering about it. Well at least mine did. I've been told that I tend to read too much into things, anyway.

However there is a drawback, and that is the ham-handed way they demonised the vigilantes, clearly because they needed an evil corporation-esque villain in the movie. I mean, they could have taken X-Men's Professor X vs. Magneto route and let us decide for ourselves who is the real monster, but nooo~. Apparently they think we have to be told who is the villain, otherwise we'll just sit there blinking when the credits start to roll. I suppose this is one department where non-casual movie goers will groan about.

One a more personal note, I found that I didn't mind seeing Nicolas Cage in the main role all that much. I don't dislike the dude, of course. It's just that, I don't get him. Can somebody tell me why is he an A-list star again?

But anyway, as I was saying, Seeking Justice isn't one of those movies where one of the flaw was they could have used a different leading man. No doubt, the role could have benefited from other talents like Russell Crowe or Christian Bale. But at the same time I think Nicolas Cage was a fair choice because he didn't stand out too much, otherwise it would have taken the attention away from the story.

So there you go, my two cents about the movie. It's difficult to definitively say if I would recommend this movie to anyone, or discourage you from seeing it altogether. There were genuine suspenseful moments, which is all that I require from movies of the thriller genre. So yeah, I have to admit that I'm easy to please, although difficult to impress. But when it comes to Seeking Justice, I'm going to have to say what you see is what you get. Whether or not that's a good thing, is something you have to decide for yourself.


asrap virtuoso said...

So apparently Nic Cage is an Oscar winner. I've never seen Leaving las Vegas which he won the award for, but I've always viewed him as a slightly above average actor. I mean he gets the job done, but lacks the charisma of a true star.

Mamü Vies said...

Above average is right. What I don't get is how he's been holding up this long.

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