by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Curtis Jackson as JONAS "MALO" MALDONADO
Forest Whitaker as DENNIS LURUE
Robert De Niro as JOE SARCONE
Dany Delany as LYDIA VECCHIO
Directed by: Jessy Terrero
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Whenever a movie hits DVD and Blu-ray without having a noticeable (or any) theatrical release, I’m both trepidatious and curious. On one hand, I’ve seen a number of limited releases that finally hit home video that actually tend to be pretty decent flicks. On the other hand, I’ve also seen plenty of these films for which it becomes painfully obvious why the movie wasn’t put in front of a wider audience.
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Either way, I like to take a chance on them. So I rolled the dice on “Freelancers.” And while it didn’t entirely come up as snake eyes, I wasn’t anywhere close to rolling an eleven either.
“Freelancers” tells the story of a rookie NYPD cop named Jonas “Malo” Maldonado (Curtis Jackson) whose father was also a cop and killed in the line of duty many years ago. Immediately after Malo joins, he is invited by his new boss Sarcone (Robert De Niro) to work with a small group of rogue policemen who take control of the crime in the street. Soon, Malo learns the corrupt group is skimming off the top, controlling the drug trade and has their hands in many different illegal activities. He faces a crisis of conscious as to how to deal with them as he also learns the true nature of his father’s death.
Like many films, the casting of “Freelancers” is critical, and I was hoping for some good things since two Oscar winners (Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker) were prominently featured on the cover box. They have sizeable parts in the movie, but the film’s a huge step down from their regular roles in award-worthy films. In short, De Niro and Whitaker had to pay their mortgages, and this movie was a means to an end.
What drags the movie down is Jackson, who fancies himself a real badass on screen, but he’s never managed to become anything more than a rapper who dreamed he was an actor. Truth is, Jackson is not a good actor; not in the slightest. He’s got a badass-looking presence, but when it comes to actually offering some emotion and sympathy from the audience, he’s a statue.
It’s clear that Jackson was the reason this movie was made, as a featured star, and the presence of other better actors came later. He gets an A for effort because he’s seriously trying to carry the movie. However, his wooden performance and flat line delivery had me rolling my eyes and checking my watch.
As a gritty police thriller, it has some decent moments, and from a technical level, things are well constructed. However, the script tries to be too smart with twists and turns that are often not explained properly or fleshed out. I honestly got more understanding about what they were trying to accomplish with the movie by watching the interviews with the cast and crew on the special features.
Speaking of the features, there are some basic ones on the disc, but there’s enough to keep your interest beyond a couple minutes past the film’s running time. Jackson and director Jessy Terrero do a commentary, plus there are some deleted scenes, a trailer gallery and extended interviews with the cast and crew that complement (if not repeat) the behind-the-scenes making-of featurette.