A man takes on his country's justice system after a procedural error that released his wife's murderer drives him to take matters into his own hands.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Luc Segers
...
Jan De Cock
...
Meester Teugels
Jappe Claes ...
Procureur-Generaal Vanderbiest
...
Karel Puype
...
Louise Puype
Hendrik Aerts ...
Kenny De Groot
Viviane de Muynck ...
Rechter Van Rillaer
...
Inspecteur Vercauteren
Dirk Tuypens ...
Walter Veldeman
Joke Devynck ...
Ella De Graeve
Nell Cattrysse ...
Anna Segers
Vic de Wachter ...
Minister van Justitie
...
Jan Ravoet
Robbie Cleiren ...
Wim Devos

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Storyline

The life of Luc Segers (Koen De Bouw) runs smoothly. He lives in a beautiful house with his wife Ella and their little daughter Anna, and will be soon appointed CEO of a logistics company. When the family Segers returns home after a company party, and Luc stops on the way to refuel, disaster strikes. Ella Segers is beaten to death by a mugger, and by a bizarre coincidence is also Anna Segers killed. Luc Segers manages to survive, but only hears what happened when he awakens from a coma three weeks later. Luc is able to identify the robber. He takes an expensive lawyer, and trusts that justice will prevail. Due to a procedural error, the state magistrate court sets the mugger on the streets again within days. Devastated by the news he turns deaf ears to the reasonings of his lawyer. He can not live with the rule that has wronged him, and decides to take the law into his own hands. He finds out the whereabouts of the robber, and shoots him. Luc Segers will be taken into custody. There ... Written by bobbuckingham

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Drama | Thriller

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9 October 2013 (Belgium)  »

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The Verdict  »

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Just another day in politically incompetent Belgium…
26 February 2016 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Based on the brief two-line plot synopsis it sounds as if "Het Vonnis" is the Belgian version of "Death Wish", but a lot more accurate comparison would be that this is the Belgian "A Time to Kill", for example. The majority of the film takes place inside the courtroom where a vigilante action/crime of vengeance is being trialled, while the crime itself is only gradually shown in brief sequences. There exist hundreds of courtroom dramas, admittedly, but "Het Vonnis" is given a typical and unmistakable Belgian character due to the subplot of the so-called "judicial error"… It might be happening elsewhere in the world, surely, but I assure you that in Belgium it occurs embarrassingly frequent. Writer/director Jan Verheyen, who truly surpassed himself with this film, allegedly wrote the screenplay out of frustration after watching another saddening news bulletin of such a judicial/procedural error. These errors can be a lot of stupid things, but the most outrageous of them all is that a criminal gets released from prison – although clearly proved guilty – because the signature of the investigating magistrate is missing on some document. This is exactly what "Het Vonnis" is about. Luc Segers is what they call "a man who's got everything". He's happily married to a beautiful wife named, they have a lovely 7-year-old daughter and Luc is about to be promoted to CEO of the company he's been putting his heart and soul in for so many years. But then Luc loses everything, when a senselessly brutal robbery leaves his wife and daughter dead and himself in a long coma. It doesn't take too long before the police apprehends the culprit, but he's released again even faster due to such a judicial error. From that moment, Luc Segers' mind snaps and he can only think about revenge, against his family's murderer and against the legal system. He executes the murderer but immediately surrenders himself to the police, and promptly a gigantic media circus ensues. Segers' is a hero according to the public, but the humiliated legal system naturally can't allow for him to get away with vigilante murder. This is definitely Jan Verheyen's best and most mature film. He's often looked down upon by Belgian critics and amateur film experts, and admittedly he has made a few inferior films, but I've always been a fan of him. "Het Vonnis" is extremely well- written, full of jaw-dropping monologues and courtroom pleas and wisely – very wisely – doesn't at one point attempt to insert any comic relief or irrelevant sub plots. The climax is intriguing and keeps your mind active for long after the movie has finished. The acting performances are stellar, but I didn't expect otherwise since "Het Vonnis" stars the elite of the Belgian acting community. Most of all, I would prefer to see Jan Verheyen return to hosting horror nights on TV or touring with his cinema show called "Nacht van de Wansmaak" again, but making good movies like this one is the next best thing…


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