FREELANCERS – The Blu Review
By Dan Schindel
How Robert de Niro and Forest Whitaker ended up in a movie that essentially went straight to DVD and Blu-Ray is beyond me. That they’re playing second fiddle to 50 Cent is even more mystifying. No matter what kind of star power is in it, though, Freelancers lives up to (down to?) the expectations that enter one’s head when they hear “straight-to-DVD movie starring a rapper.” It is not good. At all.
Cent plays Jonas “Malo” Malonado, whose police officer father was murdered when he was a boy. Now, Malo and two of his friends (Ryan O’Nan and Malcolm Goodwin) are themselves fresh-faced members of the NYPD. The trio is taken under the wing of Joe Sarcone (De Niro), Malo’s father’s former partner, who is now the head of a drug task force. Sarcone and his associates LaRue (Whitaker) and Morrison (Matt Gerald) are massively corrupt, and they instruct Malo and his friends in the way of making a profit off the drugs the confiscate.
Every beat coming down from the story is so obvious that it might as well be brandishing neon signs for the audience. Gee, do you think that the murder of Malo’s father might somehow come into play eventually? Perhaps Malo might have to struggle between what he knows is right and his loyalty to his crew? Maybe this task force will kill a whole lot of people with an inexplicable lack of consequences? Of course! All that, and more!
Having a direly clichéd plot might not be so bad if anything else about the movie stepped up to redeem it. Nothing does. Stylistically, it’s as bland as they come. The only notable flair is a constant use of washed-out color tones that just make the images look ugly. Occasionally, things take a turn for the gobsmackingly absurd, such as when 50 Cent abruptly finds himself chasing a parkour specialist over a rooftop. The fact that this bizarre development goes completely without comment from any of the characters only makes it funnier.
De Niro and Whitaker are rigidly set in check-cashing mode here. They aren’t bad, per se; they just do not have any cares to give. 50 Cent, on the other hand, is bad. Every stab he took at emotive facial expression made me feel embarrassed on his behalf. When he tries to look devastated, he looks like he’s dejected from being put in time-out for stealing a cookie (or a mound of coke, as it were). No one in this movie can sell any of the hackneyed material.
The Blu-Ray itself has little to no thought thrown into it. There’s a commentary featuring 50 Cent and director Jessy Terrero that is worth no one’s time. There are some deleted scenes that shed no new light on anything in the film. And, of course, there are cast interviews, although a lack of De Niro admitting that he’s slumming it nowadays means they’re a wash. The picture and sound quality is competent enough, although this is, again, a rather ugly movie, so that only goes so far.
Street Date: August 21, 2012
Price: $24.99 Blu-ray / $19.98 DVD
Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, violence and pervasive language
Run Time: 96 minutes