Seeking Justice Dir. Roger Donaldson

[Endgame Entertainment; 2012]

Styles: action
Others: don’t bother

Seeking Justice should, and I imagine will be, on the main, ignored. I only signed up to see it because it stars Nicholas Cage and January Jones. Let me explain that. I like to watch Cage deliver performances that make you think it’s totally weird that you exist and that everyone else exists. But he doesn’t deliver a batshit performance — just a dogshit performance. Jones is nice.

Cage plays a high school English teacher — I’ve already forgotten the character’s name and they didn’t hand out press packets at the screening and I’m having trouble connecting to the internet at my apartment — married to a professional cellist, whose name I’ve also already forgotten but is obviously played by Jones. Okay, so let’s call Cage’s character Matt and Jones’ character Sarah. I think that’s pretty close.

One night after rehearsal, Sarah gets raped. This is the only representation of violence in the film that comes close to touching on something horrific and profound-in-its-inexpressibility, because at this point, the plot hasn’t yet been plotted. But then the plot: Matt and the audience find out at the hospital that there’s an active New Orleans cell of a secret vigilante organization that “recruits” relatives of victims to commit murder by offering to do the dirty work on the relevant offender in exchange for a favor, which obviously turns out to be that the victim’s relative is required to kill in turn. Which, let’s be honest, is a pretty reasonable and ingenious way to run an organization like that, except that you’d think they’d have the decency to lay out the terms beforehand. Transparency and all that. The relevant line here is spoken by Sarah in the second scene, on the night of her and Matt’s fifth anniversary: “Well, the city might be going to hell, but we’re going dancing.” Responsibility and all that.

Naturally, the guy who’s decided to take responsibility in New Orleans is a total fascist and sociopath. Matt finds himself framed for the murder of an investigative journalist. He’s on the lam for the rest of the film, but in the end — SPOILER SURPRISE NO SURPRISE NO SPOILER AS SUCH — he and Sarah rid themselves of their pursuers and go on to lead relatively quiet and fulfilling lives, presumably.

Now for a couple of observations. Sarah plays classical music and Matt plays chess. Matt also teaches underprivileged youth. There’s something to be said about the relation between classicism and classism, but it’s really not worth figuring out what it is because it most likely doesn’t have any bearing on anything outside of the film, which really doesn’t warrant the critical effort, at least not in this historical moment. Give it 10 years maybe, then have your niece write a paper on it for her film studies class.

And what was the other one? Oh right… no, I lost it. Oh no, it was about paranoia and conspiracy. The weird twist in the film is that pretty much everybody’s a member of the secret organization. So the audience is supposed to swallow all at once that everybody in New Orleans is a depraved criminal scumbag who deserves death; everybody is a cowardly self-absorbed prick who refuses to do anything about the scumbags running amok; everybody is an erstwhile victim now clued in the vigilante organization’s catchphrase, “The hungry rabbit jumps.” The worst part is that the first letters of the three words in the catchphrase correspond to the first letters of the words in a quotation from a book written by a famous early American. Sorry, I’ve forgotten that bit too.

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