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Seeking Justice (2011)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/19/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/12/2012
In my recent review forJohn Carter, I wrote about the pros and cons of watching a movie at home. One facet which has both good and bad elements is the ability to check the running time of a movie, which is something which can be difficult to do when watching a film in the theater. At home, with a click of a button, we can know how much of a film has elapsed or how much time is left. In some films, this can be a good thing, as we can be excited that there is a lot of the movie left, or a relief that the movie is almost over. However, knowing the elapsed time can hurt some movies, as we are shocked that what has seemed like hours has only been 17 minutes. I checked the running time during Seeking Justice and what I thought was going to be a taut thriller turned into a bloated movie.
Seeking Justice introduces us to Will (Nicolas Cage) and Laura Gerard (January Jones), a New Orleans couple who have just recently celebrated their anniversary. Will is a school teacher and Laura plays in a symphony and they are happy together. However, their world is shattered when Laura is raped. While in the hospital, Will is approached by Simon (Guy Pearce), who states that's he part of a group which helps people who want immediate justice. Simon promises to take care of Laura's assailant, and Will will do a favor for the group in the future. Will agrees and sure enough, the rapist is killed. The story then jumps ahead six months, where Laura is still trying to get her life back on track. Out of the blue, Simon calls Will and asks him to mail a letter for the group. Will agrees to perform this simple task, but of course, there's more. As Simon asks for more and more, Will resists. Simon then reveals that his group is not afraid of violence and that they will take out anyone who doesn't agree with their methods.
Seeking Justice, which took two people to write, is one of those movies which takes a small idea and attempts to turn it into something bigger. The assault on Laura takes place in the first few minutes of the movie and when Simon approaches Will, with his promises of swift justice and Will's miniscule participation in the organization, we know that Will is making a deal with the devil (not literally) and that things will soon blow up in his face. Sure enough, Simon returns with demands that Will never expected and Will's refusal to help is met with brutal force and manipulation from Simon's group. Will quickly learns that if he doesn't cooperate, he'll either be killed or set up for a crime which he didn't commit. We thus get a thriller in the tradition of films like The Firm, as an innocent man finds himself on the run from a shadowy entity.
All of this is familiar and predictable, but it's not done without a certain amount of aplomb. Pearce is very good as Simon, as he strikes the perfect balance of reassuring and yet somehow very menacing. When he's promising Will that it will barely cost him a thing, we know that he's lying, but we want to believe him. I was surprised by how unwilling Will was to participate when Simon called upon him. It made his character a bit more complex than it had been. Here was a man who owed a huge debt to Simon, and yet, he had been living with the guilt of his decision for six months. I'd expected him to go along at first and then bail when things got dangerous, but he started saying no from the get-go. Not only was this unexpected, but it also showed that the film was willing to take a risk as this casts Will in a weird light. We understand that he doesn't want to work with vigilantes, as what they did was illegal, but, on the other hand, they got the man who besmirched his wife, and thus he does owe them something.
The problem with Seeking Justice is that it never knows when to pull back on the throttle. As noted in the introduction, I made the mistake of checking the running time on this movie at a time when I thought that things should be winding down and found that there was over 40 minutes left. The opening and set-up for the movie are good -- again, familiar, but good. However, once Will begins to refuse Simon's request, as we knew that he would, the movie begins to drag, and we get scene after scene of Will visiting various parts of the city either trying to learn more about Simon or trying to clear his name. It all tries to tie into the bigger plot, and yet a lot of it feels like filler, and I would say that about 15 minutes could have easily been cut from the movie it would have still made sense and would have been much more satisfying. Some of the blame must go to veteran director Roger Donaldson (Species, Cocktail), who may not have a great resume, but should know how to tell a concise story. Seeking Justice has some good things going for it and if you can be patient and looks past the filler, you'll find an unoriginal, but still competent thriller.
Seeking Justice lead me to believe that parades are always happening in New Orleans on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing very little grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture is somewhat dark at times, but the action is always visible. Having said that, the daytime scenes look good. The colors look good, most notably blues. The image has nice depth and the level of detail is good. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. While the bitrate remains somewhat low during the action scenes, these scenes do provide satisfying surround and stereo effects. The effects are nicely detailed and help to put us in the middle of the action. The subwoofer effects are solid, but not wall-rumbling. The stereo effects work well, most notably in crowd scenes.
The Seeking Justice Blu-ray disc contains only two extras. "Seeking Justice: Behind the Scenes" (7 minutes) contains some on-set footage, as well as comments from Cage, Jones, Harold Perrineau and Director Roger Donaldson, who talk about the story and their approach to the material. Be warned, there are major spoilers contained here, so don't watch it until after you've seen the movie. The other extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long