Now that he’s made two movies that have skipped wide theatrical openings this year on a quick route to video, as Trespass and Seeking Justice have, perhaps it’s time for him to step back and make his next few choices really, really carefully.
Here’s the irony: Seeking Justice is one of the better things he’s done in a while. It’s not superb by any stretch of the imagination, but it works on a level of pure Hollywood suspense.
If only you can get over the sight of him in a Mardi Gras mask and assuming an ebonics drawl to ask an African-American bartender in New Orleans, “Who dat?”
Full of NOLA flavor, the sleek thriller casts Cage and January Jones (Unknown, X-Men: First Class) as happily married couple Will and Laura Gerard, living it up on the party scene like they have no children. (They don’t.) The party’s over when, one night, she’s attacked and raped by an unknown assailant, sending her to the hospital.
In the waiting room, Will’s approached by Simon (Guy Pearce, Prometheus, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, TV’s Mildred Pierce) who makes him an offer he can’t refuse: Simon and his people will track down and take out Laura’s attacker. For this, Simon wants no money — just “a favor” down the line. Will gives his blessing, and the hit soon occurs.
Six months later, Will hears from Simon, who wishes to cash in that favor: He’s got a guy he wants Will needs to kill. You’d guess this before it happens, but the fun is watching how Will may or may not complete the circle upon which Simon’s business model is built.
As so many of these things do, it all falls apart at the end, but at least it does so after giving it all it’s got. Director Roger Donaldson is an old pro at this sort of thing, from 1987’s celebrated No Way Out to … well, that may be it in the realm of straight-ahead thrillers, but Species and The Bank Job were nothing to sneeze at. Let’s just say he keeps the machine well-oiled and running at the right speed.
He also keeps Cage restrained after those initial nightlife scenes. Donaldson can’t bring anything out of Jones but her usual whiny simpering; outside of TV’s Mad Men, where her one-note sourness conveniently fits her role, she’s a terrible actress.
And Pearce? Great as always. So much that I wish he had the lead role. —Rod Lott
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• Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray review
• Mad Men: Season Four Blu-ray review
• Mildred Pierce Blu-ray review
• Season of the Witch Blu-ray review
• Unknown Blu-ray review
• X-Men: First Class Blu-ray review