Film Review: Justice


After last week’s cinematic flop Trespass (2011), Nicolas Cage returns to screens this Friday to star in Roger Donaldson’s Justice (2011) (AKA Seeking Justice in the US), a film that somehow manages to set the bar even lower for Cage’s career, whilst doing no favours to co-stars Guy Pearce and January Jones.

Cage plays Will Gerard, a run-of-the-mill maths teacher living happily in New Orleans until his wife Laura – played by the horrendously miscast Jones – is hospitalised after being sexually assaulted. Enter Simon (Pearce), who after convincing Will that he will never find justice through the inadequate police system, offers vigilante retribution by promising to kill the attacker in exchange for a favour at a later date. As the story unfolds, Will suspects that Simon has his own agenda for coming to his aid.

Justice’s narrative, whilst possessing an interesting enough central concept, is incredibly poor throughout. Shockingly – in a film claiming to be a suspenseful thriller – there is barely a single moment that can even vaguely be described in such terms. The narrative is quite simply vacuous, suggesting that the writers couldn’t be bothered to develop the story properly.

Another major flaw of the film is its cast. Ever since his tax crisis (reports are that he owns the IRS $14.6 million), Cage has made shockingly bad film after shockingly bad film (with only Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans [2009] and a supporting role in Kick-Ass [2010] standing out as worthy efforts).

Visit Cage’s IMDb page and you will see he has made 26 films in the past 10 years, a rate that would make Woody Allen blush. Justice is yet another example of the enigmatic actor attempting to make as much money as he can, as quickly as he can. His performance is downright embarrassing to watch and, much like the screenplay, you sense that he wants to get this over and done with then move onto the next cash-cow project to keep him out of jail.

All this makes you wonder what on earth Guy Pearce is doing in this film. as one of the weakest villains in recent cinema history. After starting the year so well with Aussie gangster flick Animal Kingdom (2010) and a reasonable performance as King Edward VIII in Tom Hooper’s award-winning The King’s Speech (2010), why would you choose to end the year with as dull and boring a title as Justice?

Cage’s latest is nothing more than a tiresome, boring film, but then what can you expect from an actor in extreme financial difficulties and the director responsible for 1997 disaster movie Dante’s Peak?

Joseph Walsh | @JosephDAWalsh