When the wife of New Orleans teacher Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage) is beaten and raped, he's got revenge on his mind. So when Simon (Guy Pearce), a sympathetic stranger sidles up to him outside her hospital ward with an offer of violent retribution, Will is easily persuaded. Within 24 hours the perp is dead... but what do Simon's mysterious band of vigilantes want in return? Director Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Thirteen Days) crafts a hi-tension thriller which will appeal to fans of Taken.
This thriller poses the time-honoured question of what lengths a wronged man will go to seek vengeance.
In the case of inner-city teacher Will (Cage), he only has to go a few steps outside the hospital ward where his wife Laura (Jones) is recovering from a sidewalk rape.
While sitting in the waiting room he's approached by Simon (Pearce), a shaven-headed, sharp-suited player who represents "an organisation that deals with people."
It's simple. Forget the inconvenience of a feet-dragging legal system and trial ordeal: the violent thug that attacked Laura will be "dealt with" and it will cost Will nothing more than an undetermined favour in the future.
Sure enough, the rapist - a whisky-sodden sleazeball - is taken out by an assailant in his grotty bedsit. The only strange thing is that the sweating hitman looks extremely twitchy banging off a cap.
Here's why. It turns out that those who solicit the services of Simon's group of vigilantes are called upon to repay the favour...by carrying out a hit on the next victim a couple of months down the line.
It's an interesting premise but the script isn't satisfied to permit Simon's team to be a small, ultra-efficient cell. Instead, they are a rather unlikely Masonic-style organisation whose tentacles unconvincingly reach as far as the police, the education system, the local rag and probably anyone with a Nectar card.
The increasingly absurd Cage is almost impossible to take seriously (particularly after Trespass) and the idea of him teaching Shakespeare to a bunch of lippy homies is going to take a bit more than merely kitting him out in corduroy trousers.
Still, there's an accomplished freeway chase on foot and a couple of nice comedy lines to counterbalance the increasingly daft plot twists and narrative weaknesses.
If there's any justice, Nic might want to take a long break.