Vigilante. Those who decide to not trust the law and taking matters into their own hands, believing that they could play the role of prosecutor, judge, and executor at once, delivering verdicts, making the world one less scumbag. Now that’s a novel idea. But there’s a great power on taking the role of a judge and an executor at the same time. And because we didn’t talk about Batman, the supposedly incorruptible vigilante turns out to be a mere human, suspect to be swayed by a simple of temptation.
New Orleans, post Katrina, the city is on a sure way to hell (said some of the characters, on several different occasions) although what kind of hell I couldn’t discern from what the movie conveys. Here’s Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage), a high school English teacher, happily married to a cellist, Laura (January Jones), celebrating their anniversary with close friends. Really, what kind of hell? But shortly, Will has to make a choice that eventually puts him in debt to Simon (Guy Pearce), a representative of a certain group of vigilantes in return of a favor, albeit not financially, in the future. Later, he regrets his choice but apparently, quitting is not an option for the group as the secret group has an interest of their own.
The movie actually starts quite well. I had some issues with some of the scene’s editing, but the first two acts (generally, the introduction and the conflict part shortly before the conclusion part) are quite enjoyable with enough mystery, curiosity and a promise of carrot to keep the rabbit moving forward. I even almost convinced that January Jones isn’t just a showcase of a beautiful actress like she was on “X-Men First Class.” Almost, but not quite there yet. Problem is, while I think Nicolas Cage did a decent job as her husband, in a role that I thought as one of his better role since “Kick-Ass,” I’m not convinced that Will and Laura is a perfect couple as the movie suggests. I tend to blame Ms.Jones on this issue. Having said that, however, there’s quite a few good promises to be had from the first two acts. Secret society? Check. Corrupted vigilante? Check. The unraveling of a cobweb mystery, one knot at a time? Check. Heck, it even had some good chasing scenes.
The third act, however, where the mystery came into a conclusive end, isn’t living up to expectations. I’ve had a problem with how the secret society works. The way I see it, this secret group is supposedly to have a firm, if not strong, grip of its hierarchy. Yet, it allows Simon to have his own way within his unit. So autonomous and so independent Simon’s unit was, that his supervisor couldn’t do squat to interfere even if there’s a clear violation to the group’s values. Only after our protagonist, your everyday Citizen Joe, wager his life, one single individual against a trained and experienced unit had they (the guys who were higher on the rank) interfere. And only after the dust settles, at that. Inept? Coward? Somewhere among the lines there. I’m not sure about the rest of the audiences, but for me, it was a huge plot hole that I couldn’t seem to get my head around of.
And when the movie tries to wrap itself with another cloak of secrecy, I’ve lost interest to make it matters.
Nicolas Cage has been a prolific actor. Yet, he seems to be in it only for the paycheck. It wasn’t a bad performance, really, but he could do a lot better than this. January Jones did a lot better than in her previous roles, but for me, she has yet shown a unique quality that differentiates her from her peers. And I wager that she’s not going to. One last confession, I’m actually went into this movie primarily because of Guy Pearce. Not that he was known for his thespian quality, but there’s something about him and a bad guy role that to me, seems very fitting and goes well together. And as far as I’m concerned, he didn’t disappoint. All in all, it was a decent movie but I think it’s running out of time and when it realizes that it does, settles on a simplistic conclusion that left me staring at a wide and deep plot hole that is impossible to ignore.