BLU-RAY REVIEW: Freelancers
Robert DeNiro, Curtis Jackson and Forest Whitaker in New Crime Drama...
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I've said it before and I'll say it again: I personally think Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is a pretty decent actor. He's not great and he sometimes misses good by a hair's breadth, but he's working at the acting craft, which is something many young actors fail to do. Unfortunately, his most recent film - Freelancers - fails to hit its mark...but it's not for a lack of trying.
Directed by Jessy Terrero, who's also directed 50 Cent in numerous other films , Freelancers fits the stereotypical cliche cop action drama perfectly. 50 Cent plays rookie Officer Malo, the son of a deceased NYPD officer who joins the force and finds himself assigned to work with his father's former partner, Sarcone (DeNiro). Sarcone is a dirty cop with a dirty agenda. Determined to see his former partner's son become one of his cronies, Sarcone assigns Malo with LaRue (Whitaker), who works with the rookie to fan the flames of corruption through a battery of trials to test Malo's loyalty. However, when Malo makes a discovery and the truth comes to light about his father's death, revenge is the only thing on the young officer's mind and he won't stop until justice is served.
Now I have to admit, the above description makes me want to watch the film. Sadly, having seen it, I can honestly say it fails to live up to any and every expectations. The first kick in the teeth is from first-time feature length screenwriter L. Philippe Casseus, whose work here is loose, hard to follow, and in need of consistency and flow. It's somewhat of a mystery to me how Casseus' script was made into an $11 million dollar movie until I realized its being produced by 50 Cent himself so 50 Cent can star in it opposite a seemingly powerful cast of talented actors, including Academy Award winners Robert DeNiro and Forest Whitaker and a number of talented TV actors, including Matt Gerald (The Unit, Dexter), Robert Wisdom (Burn Notice, Happy Town), and Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings).
The second kick to the teeth is the lack of impressive acting by the cast mentioned above. It's clear DeNiro and Whitaker took Freelancers for little more than a paycheck and while actors like Gerald, Wisdom, and Goodwin do good work, without the solid development of any of their characters, it's still unimpressive. Likewise, while Terrero's directing isn't terrible, it leaves much to be desired. Scenes are often long and drawn out with little worthwhile story development. Instead, scenes are filled with empty exposition and random action or cliche drama. To make things worse, the film is set in New York City, yet looks exactly like New Orleans, which is where the movie was filmed. Overall, the combination of a misused cast, poor writing, lackluster directing, and odd set production makes for a hollow film. And Freelancers is as hollow as the bullets being shot by these dirty cop's guns.
Surprisingly, Freelancers includes a solid variety of bonus material, including a feature length audio commentary with film director Jessy Terrero and producer/actor Jackson, nearly an hours worth of interviews with cast members, nearly 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes and, the film's trailers and promo pieces. While the disc does not include a DVD or Digital Copy, you won't miss these if you only rent the movie and if you do buy Freelancers, you'll probably never need to watch the film again.
So far, Jackson has produced a total of 15 films and acted in 23. I respect Jackson for continuing to work to become a better filmmaker. Unfortunately, it seems he's still struggling to figure out how to do this. As any student of any craft knows, a great way to become better is to surround one's self with those more experienced and talented than you and learn. Unfortunately, it seems the only thing being learned from Freelancers is for film fans to avoid future 50 Cent movies.
Freelancers is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, violence and pervasive language and is available now wherever home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley