Whenever I see a movie being released featuring a singer or a basketball player, or a rapper or wrestler… well, lets just say that it doesn’t inspire my confidence in Hollywood executives and their decision-making ability. So, suffice it to say, when I heard about FREELANCERS I was more than a bit apprehensive. Put simply I hadn’t seen anything which would lead me to believe that Curtis ’50-Cent’ Jackson should be helming a big budget feature. It appears Hollywood feels the same, at least about the big budget part. FREELANCERS is a competently-delivered workman-like film that just won’t turn many heads.
FREELANCERS begins with a car chase. We don’t know who is involved or what is going on, but we see a young child in the back of a car that appears to be on fire. Then we quickly jump cut to our core group of heroes – Malo (’50 Cent’), A.D. (Malcolm Goodwin), and Lucas (Ryan O’Nan). Despite getting into some trouble together in high school, the three are recruited by the District Attorney and his wife to join the police department. Malo’s father was a police officer who was killed when he was young man. On the evening of their graduation, Malo is approached by his father’s old partner, Joe Sarcone, and asked to join his plain-clothes unit.
What Malo knows though, is that Sarcone’s unit is dirty. Malo is teamed up with LaRue (Forest Whitaker from THE SHIELD), while Lucas and A.D. are both teamed up with very differented TOs (Training Officers). Lucas is working with a white-supremacist who doesn’t like that his new partner is friends with several African American officers. A.D.’s training officer, however, is a nice, older man who just wants young men to have some pride in themselves. Both A.D. and Lucas are easily swayed by Malo into joining in on some side-action, and soon the three are running corrupt side jobs for Sarcone.
At this point in the movie, I’m sure that we’re supposed to be rooting for Malo and his friends. They’re typical (and one-dimensional) anti-heroes that are fairly common in today’s culture. But unlike Shawn Ryan’s beautifully crafted corruption on THE SHIELD, FREELANCERS doesn’t give us anything to root for. Much to the opposite – I can’t figure out HOW we’re supposed to feel for Malo and friends, but it is clear that Curtis Jackson feels very cool in this scumbag role. And he spends most of his screen-time with vets and master-craftsmen Whitaker and De Niro (who plays Sarcone). But even with Whitaker’s nuanced performance, De Niro feels like he phoned it in this time and it makes you wonder about his recent film choices.
As I said above, FREELANCERS is competently made. It’s not that any one thing is especially poor (other than the acting) – but the PACING is absolutely horrendous. I’m not sure if this has to do with a plodding script that relies on tension that doesn’t exist, or if it is the editing that draw the film out – but for a <100 minute feature I expected far better pacing and instead felt like I’d spend the entire evening sitting in my chair waiting for this disaster to come to an end. They intended for this movie to feel as cool as the actors seem to think they are – but in the end the movie just feels flat and boring. Avoid this one if you can.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) FREELANCERS features some breathtaking and stylized views of New York City, but nothing here is going to wash away the dirty feeling and wasted time you spent on this snoozer.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) FREELANCERS audio track is, again, competently done but there is little to be proud of here.
Audio Commentary with Director Jessy Terrero and Actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (01:36:32) This commentary on FREELANCERS seems more focused on tying together the ragged story and is sporadic at best. There are HUGE pauses that make it almost unwatchable. Jackson doesn’t share much of anything.
Deleted Scenes (18:35) 11 scenes are presented here that were cut from the film and should have been. There isn’t anything here that would have improved FREELANCERS to any noticeable degree.
Behind the Scenes with Interviews (14:30) Clips from FREELANCERS are interspersed with interview footage with the cast and crew. Some interesting moments don’t make it worth the 15 minute investment. And I don’t ever need to hear “De Niro, Whitaker, Jackson” again.
Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew (33:20) Extended interviews featured (in tighter, edited versions) in the Behind the Scenes featurette, FREELANCERS attempts to provide more value to the Blu-ray package. I’m sure some people will enjoy these, but I found myself bored. Includes interviews with director Jessy Terrero, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Malcolm Goodwin, Ryan O’Nan, Beau Garrett, Anabelle Acosta, writer L. Philippe Casseus, and producer Randall Emmett.
The FREELANCERS Blu-ray also features previews of other features from Lionsgate films and the red-band Theatrical Trailer (02:32).