| August 19, 2012

Whenever I watch a movie like Freelancers, I’m reminded of Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, where the Charlie Character (Nicholas Cage) is talking to his twin brother, Donald about screenwriting.  Donald is pitching Charlie his idea for a script, which he describes as “Silence of the Lambs meets Psycho;” a cop movie where the protagonist is hunting this serial killer, except that the cop and the serial killer are the same person thanks to a multiple personality disorder.  Charlie criticizes Donald saying that it’s ridiculous to write a movie in which cop and criminal are two aspects of the same character because it’s the ultimate cop movie cliché.  Of course, there are films that pull off this dynamic very well.  Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is masterfully structured and acted, and even Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day has a strong enough cast to distract from its somewhat boring conceit.

99% of dirty cop movies are awful, and unfortunately Freelancers is no exception.  I was optimistic going into it because it has a relatively strong cast with Robert DeNiro, Forrest Whitaker, and even Malcolm Goodwin, who stars on TBS’s Breakout Kings.  Unfortunatley, none of them are starring in the film.  Instead, we have Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson playing one of the single most inconsistent characters I think I’ve ever seen on screen.

The story is that Jackson’s character Jonas along with two of his closest friends (Malcolm Goodwin and Ryan O’Nan) have turned away from their pasts as petty criminals to become police officers and fly straight.  However, their newfound heroism is instantly tested when Jonas is recruited by a sort of secret society of dirty cops led by Joe Sarcone (Robert DeNiro).  This is where we get into the annoying inconsistency within Jonas’s character.  On the surface, he seems like a good guy; humble, charming, with a crush on this girl he’s known since they were kids (Anabelle Acosta), but he is so quick to change, that his character loses all believability.  He demonstrates no hesitation before pursuing other women, trying drugs, taking his cut, and turning his back when his partner (Forrest Whitaker) blatantly abuses his power as a cop.

Whitaker, by the way, is not at the top of his game here.  The academy award winning actor approaches his character with a distinct lack of energy.  Obviously, the character is run down, and arguably a lot of the problems with the acting can be traced back to the writing here, but definitely some of the blame has to be shouldered by the actors who at a very basic level give the impression that they don’t care about this project at all.

Special Features include audio commentary by Director Jessy Terrero and Curtis Jackson, Deleted scenes, Behind the scenes featurette, and interviews with the cast and crew.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate on August 21

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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