Robert De Niro seems to be letting Nic Cage take all the credit for taking on any role that comes his way. Maybe it is because Nic Cage has more energy in him (that’s why he’s the Rage Cage), while De Niro’s lesser projects seem to involve him sleepwalking through random supporting roles. Freelancers finds De Niro playing a supporting role as a corrupt cop who has recruited the film’s lead, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson to be a part of his super elite corrupt cop club. Also, Forest Whitaker co-stars as Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day turned up to 11. Needless to say, Freelancers is a cop drama that no one ever wanted, but Fitty does his best to show that he is a capable lead. Following its incredibly brief theatrical run, Freelancers is now available for anyone to checkout. Continue on to learn more about how this Blu-ray release fares.
The story revolves around 50 Cent as Jonas “Malo” Maldonado. Formerly a kid, only to have grown up and followed in his murdered father’s footsteps by becoming a cop, the film begins with Jonas at his police academy graduation party. Almost immediately after toasting with his friends to being great, non-corrupt cops, Jonas is called over to Captain Joe Sarcone’s (De Niro) table and told that he has been invited to join in on the corruption with other corrupt cops. Literally, Sarcone gives Jonas a location, which is where all the corrupt cops hang out together and Jonas agrees. Getting to his first day on the job, Jonas is now positioned with his training officer, Lieutenant Detective Lurue (Forest Whitaker), who is happy to smoke, steal, and screw, while on the clock. Jonas does not do a whole lot of objecting to any of this.
As the story continues on, we find Jonas struggling with the level of corruption he is willing to descend to (because it is less a matter of being corrupt and more a matter of how corrupt he should be). He seems fine with taking in some profits and being in the presence of Lurue, and especially Sarcone; but at the same time, he also seems to be power hungry and maybe wishes he could take a bigger slice. Things get even more complicated when Jonas learns that Sarcone may have been involved with the death of his father. Fitty is on the case, but how deep is he willing to go?
This film is bad. I think anyone could have guessed that. It is poorly plotted, features a lot of bad acting, and does nothing to really make any sort of stamp in its genre. The Blu-ray cover touts that this film has come from “A Producer of Righteous Kill and Street Kings.” I am not sure how that is supposed to bring in more audiences, but it does suggest that this producer must be friendly enough with De Niro and Whitaker to be able to convince them that co-starring in a film starring 50 Cent (a second time for De Niro) was a good enough idea.
Were the film able to slide past the opening ridiculousness of having a corrupt club led by De Niro, the idea of three friends who are now all cops, working with a training officer was actually a good one. The early bits of the story set up a better movie, as we watch each friend interact with their distinctive training officer and encounter different moral boundaries. Whitaker’s character is corrupt, while another is a bigot, but in service of the law for the most part, and the last is a level-headed officer who wants to do what is right and hopes the younger generation can learn from this. It is almost like Training Day divided by three in a sense, but the movie quickly abandons this (albeit very trite premise) in favor of a terrible story that is set out to test 50 Cent’s skills as an actor.
It of course does not help that 50 Cent does little to inspire my confidence in his future as a leading man. The man looks tough, sure, but every line of dialogue he has is either mumbled or barely audible due to him speaking through his closed teeth. As a producer on this film, I guess 50 Cent was attached enough to this material to really try and give it his all, which is commendable, but practically everything about his performance rings false, let alone the efforts of the filmmakers involved in putting the flick together. Flashy style does not equal a better film every time.
Let me wrap up by getting back to De Niro. Sure, we are all quite aware that the iconic De Niro performances have come and gone and even his really good roles are very far and in between, but mortgages do need to be paid. He of course lends some gravitas to the film and says his lines the way we would all expect him to, but Freelancers is well below a “meh” film, it’s a big pile of nothing interesting.
Freelancers arrives on Blu-ray with a pretty solid 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that does enough justice to the visuals presented in the film. Given the style of the feature, which attempts to echo plenty of the gritty cop films that have come before it, getting to see a transfer that captures the slick visuals, use of darker blues, and flashy moments that take place at night and indoors is certainly nice to see in this format. Regardless of the quality of the film, the fact that textures register well enough, dark levels look decent, and the details as a whole appear clearly is good enough for this release. The only thing I found noticeable is when the film utilizes a different cinematic aesthetic for flashbacks, which felt somewhat distracting, while watching the feature. Other than that, this disc excels at sitting above average.
Similarly, the audio quality of this Blu-ray is strong enough to be appreciated. Fitted with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track, I was able to hear all of the terrible dialogue that Freelancers had to offer, along with the various hip-hop beats bumping throughout, and the minimal amounts of gunplay. This is much more of a dialogue driven film than some may expect, but with that said, the film sounded clear enough, with proper balance lending itself well to supplying a strong audio mix for this disc. The busy nature of the New York setting is a benefit as well, I guess, as you get a good enough feel for things happening around the characters, given the solid balance heard in this audio track.
There is a decent enough collection of extras to supplement this film, given that I really did not need to learn much more about it, but did anyway. Again, regardless of the film’s quality, Lionsgate did provide a pretty decent Blu-ray disc for the film.
Commentary with Director Jessy Terrero and Actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson – Not the best commentary I have listened to. Not a lot learned and 50 Cent was not helping too much with his comments.
Deleted Scenes – A lot of padding for the film and an alternate opening.
Behind the Scenes with Interviews – Pretty standard stuff here.
Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew – Fairly lengthy, even though no De Niro to be seen in this section.
At least there is a pretty solid Blu-ray disc that houses this pretty lame film. Strong enough video and audio presentations, along with a decent number of extras at least make for a better experience of obtaining this Blu-ray. As it stands, Freelancers is not a very good film and may or may not only be worse due to the fact that great actors Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker are stuck being a part of it. 50 Cent is trying to make a name for himself as an actor, but it may take a while if he does not do more than just hook himself up with big names and hope everything just works by the end.