Sunday 19 November 2017

Cage does justice to vigilante-gang thriller


Padraic McKiernan


Cert 15A

So much for the wheels of justice grinding slowly. It's certainly not the case in Nicolas Cage's pulsating new vigilante thriller, Justice. Directed by Roger Donaldson and set in New Orleans, the story arc of this gripping piece considers the moral hazards met when those aforementioned wheels are turbo-charged.

Cage plays high-school teacher Wil Gerard, an ordinary man catapulted into extraordinary circumstances when his wife Laura (January Jones) is the victim of an assault and rape. Traumatised by what he has witnessed at his wife's hospital bedside, Wil is subsequently approached in the waiting area by a mysterious stranger, Simon (Guy Pearce).

Claiming to be part of a secret society that values safe streets over safe verdicts, Simon promises to have his wife's attacker bagged and tagged by sunrise if Wil agrees to return a favour in the future. Against his instincts, Wil accepts the offer without inquiring as to what that payback might be. Big mistake.

Six months later, just as he and his wife are showing signs of rebuilding their lives, Simon and his gang of vigilante goons are back on the scene. For his debt to be redeemed, Wil is required to liquidate an "alleged" paedophile. It's easier said than done when you have a conscience and Wil's moral scruples lead to a botched hit.

Cue man-in-over-his-head scenario as Wil is forced to fight a ruthless enemy that doesn't do due process.

Though initially a tad formulaic, Justice gradually gains momentum and develops into a nuanced piece that has much to recommend it.

A profusion of eye-popping car chases and stunts will keep action adventure aficionados on board, while the narrative has interesting things to say about the vigilante impulse and its pitfalls. Keeping his well-catalogued scenery- chewing instincts in check, Cage delivers a reassuring reminder that his capacity for quality performances remains intact.

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