The world of cinema is a realm of boundless possibilities, where filmmakers strive to create captivating stories that take audiences on remarkable journeys. However, not every film lives up to its potential. “Freelance,” helmed by director Pierre Morel, is one such project that begins with promise but leaves viewers yearning for more. It’s a movie that falls short of the mark, despite boasting familiar faces and a decent budget. As we delve into the heart of “Freelance,” we’ll uncover the missed opportunities, the creative letdowns, and the confusion that taints this action-comedy.
A Troubled Protagonist
The story revolves around John Cena’s Mason Pettits, a character who laments that he’s yet to fulfill his purpose in life. After a stint as a lawyer, Mason embarks on a special forces mission to assassinate President Juan Venegas of Paldonia (played by Juan Pablo Raba). The mission ends in disaster, leaving Mason injured and haunted by the loss of half his team. He finds himself living a suburban life with his wife (portrayed by an underutilized Alice Eve) and their daughter, a reality he never desired. “Freelance” introduces us to a character who seems trapped in a life he despises, and as viewers, we start to feel like Mason as we witness a talented actor caught in a role that doesn’t do justice to his abilities.
Freelance Reviews: A Ray of Hope
Thankfully, Mason is offered an escape from his mundane existence when his former special forces comrade (played by Christian Slater) approaches him with a job opportunity. The task at hand is to act as a bodyguard for journalist Claire Wellington (Alison Brie) as she embarks on a journey to interview President Venegas in the tumultuous setting of Paldonia. With Mason’s past grievances against Venegas and the backdrop of a military coup in Paldonia, the stage is set for a typical action-comedy adventure. Or is it?
A Familiar Director’s Misstep
“Freelance” comes under the direction of Pierre Morel, known for his work on “Taken” and “District 13.” However, this film doesn’t quite capture the energy and dynamism of his earlier projects. The movie appears cheaply made, with scenes that often look like they were filmed on backlots and green screens. The action sequences lack excitement, and the humor rarely lands. The film’s pacing is erratic, taking an agonizingly long time to gain momentum. Morel fails to infuse the grand adventure that “Freelance” aspires to be.
The Blame Game: Director and Writer
While the director shoulders some of the blame, the screenplay, penned by Jacob Lentz, is equally responsible for this cinematic disappointment. The film’s pacing is uneven, the humor falls flat, and the narrative grows needlessly convoluted. “Freelance” seems like a patchwork of different ideas that fail to coalesce into a coherent whole. It begins with a surprisingly mean-spirited sense of humor, as Mason jests about the perils of suburban life and parenting. As the story unfolds in Paldonia, it attempts to construct a love triangle between the characters but never commits to this subplot. Mason’s character veers between being in control and appearing bewildered, with a lack of consistent humor throughout the film.
An Overwhelming Ambition
One of the most confounding aspects of “Freelance” is the excessive complexity that writer Jacob Lentz attempts to infuse into what should have been a straightforward concept. Instead of diving into action and comedy, the film becomes mired in lengthy explanations and repetitive plot points. The politics of Paldonia, including mercenaries, dictators, and corporate-backed coups, consume significant screen time. The narrative becomes a labyrinth of ups and downs, with alliances shifting and justifications for violence taking center stage. “Freelance” spirals into a hail of gunfire that feels neither earned nor thematically significant, detracting from the initial promise of a lighthearted romp.
Talented Cast, Lost Opportunities
Despite the film’s many shortcomings, the cast features talented actors who are capable of much more. John Cena endeavors to bring a lighthearted approach to his character, but the script and lack of effective humor hamper his efforts. Alison Brie, known for her charm and humor in other roles, finds herself underutilized, often relegated to the role of a damsel in distress or an object of attraction. Notably, during the end-credit bloopers, both Cena and Brie are seen enjoying themselves and bringing a sense of fun to the set, a stark contrast to the film’s overall tone.
Raba’s Shining Performance
Amidst the confusion and missteps, Juan Pablo Raba’s portrayal of President Venegas stands out. Raba’s character brings an element of playfulness to the film, portraying Venegas as a potentially misunderstood president or a leader on the brink of losing his grip. While the character may not be entirely successful, Raba’s performance injects much-needed levity into a comedy that struggles to find its footing.
A Lesson in Simplicity
“Freelance” appears to have aimed for a grand adventure but stretched itself too thin. The film’s ambition is admirable, but it becomes its own downfall by attempting to juggle too many plot elements. It overlooks the humor and action that could have given it the vitality it desperately needs. In the end, “Freelance” could have benefitted from a more straightforward and simplified approach that embraces the joy of a well-executed action-comedy.
“Freelance” is a movie that begins with potential but ultimately disappoints. It struggles to find its identity, weighed down by a convoluted narrative and an inability to deliver on the promise of action and humor. The cast, including John Cena and Alison Brie, deserves better material to work with. The film’s ambitions may have been its undoing, as it loses its way in the labyrinth of its own making.
As audiences, we seek cinematic experiences that entertain, inspire, and leave a lasting impression. “Freelance” reminds us that even with a noteworthy cast and a recognizable director, a film can fall short of expectations when it loses sight of its core strengths. Let “Freelance” serve as a lesson in the art of storytelling, emphasizing the importance of balance and simplicity in crafting an engaging cinematic journey.