You’d think that a movie with two Oscar-winning actors in leading roles and an Emmy-winning actress in a supporting role would be destined for, if not greatness, then certainly first class treatment and a high pedigreed reputation. But Jessy Terrero’s Freelancers is no such thing: a shambling, threadbare police drama with almost nothing to recommend it. Yes, one of those Oscar winning actors does a fine job with clichéd material, and there are other decent performances, but the script and direction are unworthy of some of the talent involved, and the star of the movie can’t act his way out of a paper bag.
Directed by Jessy Terrero
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 96 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Review Date: August 14, 2012
On the day of his graduation from the academy to become a New York City police officer, Malo (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) is propositioned by Street Vice Squad Captain Sarcone (Robert De Niro) to join their band of rogue cops who give even dirty cops a bad name. By becoming in essence drug pushers on the NYC streets and skimming a heavy percentage of all drugs and money confiscated in raids, Sarcone’s squad is more powerful and feared than the mob. Sarcone puts rookie Malo under the thumb of training officer LaRue (Forest Whitaker) who takes periodic drug and sex breaks during his workday. Initially resistant to the drug business, Malo soon succumbs to the lure of the vices and looks to rise quickly in the organization. But when the wife (Dana Delany) of the man who got him and his two best friends accepted into the academy even with their police records informs him of how his policeman father was killed (by the very man Malo now works for because his father was going to be a DA witness against them), Malo decides to go into business for himself which means eliminating the competition.
The script by L. Philippe Casseus tosses in a bit from just about every crime film you’ve ever seen. We’ve got the two close pals of the main character, one good (Malcolm Goodwin) and one bad (Ryan O'Nan), who try to influence him toward one side or the other and eventually alienate him from each of them. We’ve got two gorgeous women in the leading man’s life: an old girl friend (Anabelle Acosta) who knows nothing of her man’s vice-ridden activities and a bartender (Beau Garrett) who’s actually an undercover cop trying to get the goods on these rogue officers. There are three training officers (one corrupt, one expert, one bigoted) for the three buddies who individually have various effects on their charges. And you’ll arrive at the “shocking” discovery of the boss’ offing Malo’s old man long before Malo figures things out. But nowhere is there any sign of freshness or insight into the situation of dirty cops; these same stories are being told on law enforcement TV dramas every night of the week. And director Jessy Terrero doesn’t do much to bring anything new to the table either. He makes sure there are a couple of scenes with bare-breasted women in a bar or brothel (he knows who the audience for his film is), but despite the R-rating (which is mostly due to coarse language and drug use), the violence level is rather tame. One crucial “Lady or the Tiger” shooting scene happens off screen, and a couple of other key shootings are either done in long shot or keep the blood flow on the low side.
With Robert De Niro walking off with every one of his scenes as the crooked Sarcone, he only serves to show up the limited and rather pathetic acting skills of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Malo. He mumbles his lines (a habit that seems to have been picked up by several members of the cast) and has no inflection in most of them. Having to carry the major burden of the film on his shoulders, he’s not really up to the task either physically or verbally. The biggest shock, however, is the poorness of Forest Whitaker’s performance as Sarcone’s lieutenant LaRue. He mumbles even more than Jackson, and he seems to be there only for a paycheck as there is very little intensity in anything he does apart from one moment where he faces off with street suspects in a deal-gone-bad. Anabelle Acosta as the innocent girl friend Cyndy has a naturalness that’s appealing, and Malcolm Goodwin as Malo’s friend AD who’s interested in being an honorable cop is likewise effective. Matt Gerald as the bigoted training officer seems definitely and authentically of the streets scoring majorly in his underwritten part.
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio has been faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. With a slightly stylized, desaturated look that emphasizes steel blue colors, the timing of the color and depth of color saturation are very controlled. Sharpness is generally excellent, and flesh tones, while not always accurate due to the stylized look of the film, remain consistent throughout. Black levels are superb. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix may not be able to compete with the big budgeted action pictures from other studios, but it does amazingly well for a low budgeted affair. The music, mostly rap and hip-hop, gets ample spread through the fronts and rears, and there are enough ambient sounds spread through the soundstage to capture the gritty world the film is portraying. There’s one really effective moment when Malo is thinking about many voices from past and present advising him, and the echoes of those statements bounce all around the soundstage, by far the most effective use of multiple channels in the movie. Dialogue has been placed in the center channel, but with the mumbling and muttering several members of the cast engage in, you may find subtitles helpful.
The audio commentary features director Jessy Terrero and star Curtis Jackson occasionally making brief comments throughout the running time of the movie separated by lengthy breaks of silence. They do offer an occasional bit of information about earlier drafts of the movie or subplots that were cut, but this is one of the more forgettable commentaries recently offered.
All of the video bonus material is in 1080p.
A series of behind-the-scenes interviews finds the cast and crew discussing the film’s plot and their roles in it. Participating are director Jessy Terrero, producer Randall Emmett, screenwriter L. Philippe Casseus, and actors Curtis Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Garrett, Malcolm Goodwin, Ryan O’Nan, and Anabelle Acosta. It runs 14 ½ minutes.
The complete interview footage for each of the above named cast and crew is available for individual viewing. They are director Jessy Terrero (6 ¼ minutes), producer Randall Emmett (6 ½ minutes), screenwriter L. Philippe Casseus (3 ½ minutes), and actors Curtis Jackson (4 ¼ minutes), Forest Whitaker (3 ¾ minutes), Beau Garrett (2 minutes), Malcolm Goodwin (2 minutes), Ryan O’Nan (2 ¾ minutes), and Anabelle Acosta (2 ¼ minutes).
There are eleven deleted scenes which may be viewed individually or in one 18 ½-minute bunch.
The red banner theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.
The promo trailers on the disc are for The Hunger Games, Haywire, Man on a Ledge, and Reservoir Dogs.
2/5 (not an average)
Not a great film in the annuls of police drama, but there are a few good performances on view in Freelancers, and the top notch video and audio transfers will insure a pleasing technical home theater experience for those who are curious to rent this.