With a drab storyline and uninspired direction, Freelance is a dull mash-up of cliched action scenes and drab comedy. The film is a masterclass in mediocrity from beginning to end, providing little more than a disorganized jumble of cliches and wooden performances.
The storyline of the film, if plotting is even appropriate, centres on Mason Pettits (John Cena), a former Special Forces operator who is now a bodyguard. He is assigned to watch over journalist Claire Wellington (Alison Brie) while she is having an interview with President Juan Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba) of the made-up country of Paldonia. The three find themselves fleeing into the jungle after a predictable coup occurs, setting out on an uneventful and untense journey.
The blatant lack of originality in Freelance is one of its biggest problems. The film blatantly parodies plot points from innumerable other action comedies, but it falls short of adding any original thought or inventiveness to the story. Mason Pettits, the stereotypical moody action hero, and Claire Wellington, who is reduced to a damsel in distress cliché, are two examples of the one-dimensional characters. The attempt to include an AI-generated character is unsuccessful and doesn’t significantly advance the plot.
Pierre Morel, who was previously praised for his dynamic direction in movies such as Taken and District 13, gives a surprisingly dull performance in this one. Instead of the heart-pounding thrill that Morel was once known for, the action scenes take a formulaic approach that doesn’t hold the audience’s attention. A sense of wonder or awe is not evoked by the generic shots of the jungle in the equally uninspired cinematography. Paldonia is portrayed as a faceless, generic foreign land with little cultural nuance, which emphasizes the film’s sloppy world-building even more.
In Freelance, the acting is as lifeless as the screenplay. The charismatic and physically fit John Cena sleepwalks through the part of Mason Pettits. There’s no chemistry between him and Alison Brie’s character, and his attempts at emotional depth come across as forced. Despite her talent, Brie is given very little to work with and is forced to deliver lines that are completely flat of humor or feeling. The film’s dull writing overshadows the performances of the forgettable supporting cast, which includes Juan Pablo Raba.
Freelance‘s attempts at humour are, at best, laugh-out-loud ridiculous, depending on old jokes and uncomfortable circumstances that never manage to make you laugh out loud. It’s hard to get invested in Mason and Claire’s relationship or care about their future because of the forced and uninteresting romantic subplot.
Freelance is one of the strongest examples of an action comedy gone wrong. It makes for a boring and forgettable viewing experience because it lacks originality, vigour, and emotional depth. Freelance is a tough pass if you’re looking for an action comedy that is really funny and well-made. Spend your money and time on a movie that delivers something more than a disorganized jumble of stale clichés and lifeless acting.
Action, Comedy | USA, 2023 | 15 | TBC | Signature Entertainment | Dir.Pierre Morrel | John Cena, Alison Brie, Christian Slater, Marton Csokas, Alice Eve, Molly McCann, Juan Pablo Raba