Justice Served revolves around three sets of people who are connected by the fact that one has been failed by the justice system after a devastating crime and the other was the one who perpetrated the crime. Basically, for one reason or another, the accused perpetrator was let go through technicalities of the justice system, but the living victim now has a second chance to conduct another trial.
In this Saw-like scenario, the three sets of victims all have murders they are dealing with, one losing their spouse, one losing their child, and the third losing their boyfriend. Before them is the reporter killer and they are also provided with additional evidence that was not allowed at trial for one reason or another, and with which they must decide a verdict to serve justice.
Justice Served has an overall strong concept that loses its momentum halfway through. At the beginning, the premise is extremely strong and important, serving, as it does, as a social commentary about the fairness and duty of our justice system.
Recently, through news reports and documentaries such as 13, the flaws of the justice system that once lain in the shadows are now glaringly obvious to anyone who wants to do even minimal research. Taking all of this into account Justice Served sets up a central conceit that is truly fascinating, especially in the wake of a revelation of our flawed, failing justice system.
At first, each victim interacts with their defendant, who is tied to a chair modeled after the style of chairs used in capital punishment for electric shock. The victim has access to new evidence, can talk to the defendant, can shock the defendant, and can use the Internet (except for email and social media) in trying their case.
Each victim interacts with their defendant in a different way, which is a great way of showing how we all handle grief differently in the wake of the loss of a loved one. For instance, Luke Palmer (Chase Coleman, Boardwalk Empire, The Originals) was destroyed by the murder of his wife, but when faced with her accused killer he is pragmatic, compassionate, and sees the dilemma as morally wrong and unjust.
However, one of Luke’s female counterparts, Astrid Page (played by Christina Rose, The Secrets of Emily Blair, broken: A Musical) is faced with the reported murderer of her son, which also broke up her marriage. Her rage is fully-fledged and she quickly goes from a grieving mother to a sadist who inflicts all her pain and suffering onto the man who she thinks killed her son.
The last room has another female, Mia Orlando (played by Denyce Lawton, Almost Home, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne) who is facing the man who supposedly killed her boyfriend. She is seemingly distraught the entire time, but in a way where she is passive and confused, not angry.
Again, the amount of work and detail that is put into all three of these scenarios is pretty amazing, however when the film reaches its climax you are just left scratching your head trying to figure out what the hell actually happened. There are entire sections that run too long and that are not justified in being in the final cut of the film.
For example, there are bailiffs that help run the scenarios where justice is being served, but there is a long scene, the only point of which is to show the viewer that one of them has a gun (even though they were advised against it).
It serves the purpose of providing a detail, but after showing the viewer that the bailiffs are all ex-cons, the assumption that they came to the job with a piece is obvious. There are other frivolous details like this throughout the film, but rather than this being a symptom of poor, I think these are points are over-explained plot holes that are unnecessary.
Speaking of writing, the writer and director and one of the stars of the movie is Marvin Young, better known as the rapper Young MC. Justice Served is his only writing and directing credit, as most of his work is soundtrack (and music, obviously). For a first movie, this is an insanely creative and out of the box idea and deserves more credit because it is a first stab at this genre from an outsider.
But, my biggest criticism of this film is that is needs to be edited, drastically. Besides over-explaining scenes, there are some actors that do not need as much screen time as they get because they are just not as strong performance-wise, as some of the more seasoned actors.
Overall, while I do recommend this movie to avid horror fans for a fresh taste of something new, this is not for the casual fan who simply enjoys being scared. The movie is not particularly scary or thrilling, but the psychological suggestions it makes to viewers about being in the victims’ shoes, and about what to do when the justice system fails you, are the most exhilarating aspects and justify giving it a shot.
Catch Justice Served when it has a limited theatrical release on May 2, 2017 and is released on DVD/VOD May 9, 2017.
WICKED RATING 4/10
Director(s): Marvin Young
Writer(s): Marvin Young
Stars: Lochlyn Munro, Lance Henriksen, Gail O’Grady
Studio/ Production Co: Three Day Weekend, Breaking Glass Pictures
Release date: May 2, 2017; May 9, 2017
Length: 108 min