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'Seeking Justice' review: Neither smart nor dumb enough

EthicsJanuary JonesRoger DonaldsonGuy PearceNicolas Cage

 ** (out of four)

Will (Nicolas Cage) clearly has not seen “The Box,” or any number of movies about making deals with the devil. Otherwise, following his wife’s (January Jones) rape, Will might not accept a stranger named Simon’s (Guy Pearce) offer to kill the rapist free of charge. Well, free until Simon has to ask a favor of Will with consequences that, surprise surprise, this English teacher has not considered in the least.

With its pay-it-forward vigilante scheme, “Seeking Justice” becomes a mystery low on secrets and an ethical dilemma with no consideration of morality whatsoever. Anyone can understand impulsively wanting to exact revenge on someone who harmed a loved one. But Cage, who no longer possesses gears between quiet introversion and screaming anger, provides no nuance to Will’s sorrow and escalating volatility. Where “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” dared to get creepy and complex, the similarly Big Easy-set “Seeking Justice” boringly moves straight down the middle.

Something exciting, or at least hilariously over-the-top, should automatically emerge when a movie features the typically bonkers Cage and a scene at a monster truck rally. Yet director Roger Donaldson (“The Bank Job”) never cracks a smile at the generic, sinister bald guy who assists Simon or the covert organization’s secret code phrase, “The hungry rabbit jumps.” That’s so conspicuous they may as well say, “This sentence is not a secret code.”

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

 

 

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