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Freelancers (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 14, 2012 by  



Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker together in the same film?  Believe it!  “Freelancers” is a crime drama about making choices, police corruption, betrayal and revenge and if you are in the mood to watching a gritty  drama about dirty cops and seeing 50 Cent in his best film yet, definitely give “Freelancers” a try!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Freelancers

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English and Spanish Subtitles, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Nudity, Drug Use, Violence and Pervasive Language)

RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2012

Directed by Jessy Terrero

Written by L. Philippe Casseus

Produced by 50 Cent, Randall Emmett, George Furla

Co-Producer: Sefton Fincham, Gus Furla, Brandon Grimes

Executive Producer: Brandt Andersen, Gordon Bijelonic, Martin Blencowe, Michael Blencowe, Barry Brooker, Mark Canton, Reminton Chase, Michael Corso, Ted Fox, Anthony Gudas, Richard Jackson, Fredrik Malmberg, Stepan Martirosyan, Jeff Rice, Liro Seppanen, Daniel Wagner, Stan Wertlieb, Feng Yang

Line Producer: Daniel Wagner

Music by Reg B

Cinematography by Igor Martinovic

Edited by Sean Albertson, Sara Mineo, Kirk M. Morri

Casting by Danielle Aufiero, Barbara Fiorentino

Production Design by Philip Toolin

Art Direction by Christina Eunji Kim

Set Decoration by Monique Champagne

Costume Design by Mia Maddox

Associate Producer: Ryan S. Black

Starring:

Robert De Niro as Sarcone

Forest Whitaker as LaRue

50 Cent as Malo

Dana Delany as DA’s Wife

Beau Garrett as Joey

Michael McGrady as Robert Jude

Anabelle Acosta as Cyn

Matt Gerald as Billy Morrison

Jeff Chase as Angie

Amin Joseph as Shady

Malcolm Goodwin as AD

The son of a slain NYPD officer joins the force, where he falls in with his father’s former partner and a team of rogue “Gotham cops.” His new boss, Sarcone (De Niro), will see if he has what it takes to be rogue through many trials and tribulations of loyalty, trust and respect. However, when the truth about his father’s death is revealed, revenge takes over and he won’t stop until justice has been truly served.

From the director of “Soul Plane”, “Gun” and “50 Cent: The New Breed”, Jessy Terro once against collaborates with hip hop star and actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson in the 2012 film “Freelancers”.  “Freelancers” was written by L. Philippe Casseus and stars 50 Cent (“13”, “Gun”, “Fire with Fire”), Robert De Niro (“Goodfellas”, “Casino”, “Taxi Driver”, “The Godfather: Part II”), Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”, “Platoon”, “Ghost Dog”), Dana Delany (“Desperate Housewives”, “Body of Proof”, “Castle”, “China Beach”), Malcolm Goodwin (“American Gangster”, “Leatherheads”, “Breakout Kings”) and Ryan O’Nan (“Eat Pray Love”, “The Dry Land”).

The film received a limited release in theaters back in August 10, 2012 and the film will be released on Blu-ray and Digital Download and On Demand in August 21st.

The film begins with an introduction to how three troubled teens, Malo (as portrayed by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), AD (as portrayed by Malcolm Goodwin) and Lucas (as portrayed by Ryan O’Nan) were released from jail and given a new chance of life by the District Attorney and to turn their lives around, the three have graduated from the police academy.

For Malo, he wishes he can be as good as his father once was.

Malo’s father was a police officer and when he was a child, he witnessed his father being killed.  For what reason, he doesn’t know but hopefully as a police officer, maybe he can find out some new details on his father’s death.

But despite Malo and his friends becoming police officers, the three still have their bad boy tendencies but they make an oath to watch each other’s back.

And despite Malo now having a new job, his old girlfriend Cyn (as portrayed by Anabelle Costa) has not seen him in years and wants an assurance that the two will be together forever, but first he must tell her that he loves her.  Something that Malo can’t do, as he doesn’t know if he wants to be in a serious relationship or having fun with the women.

Meanwhile, Captain Vic Sarcone (as portrayed by Robert De Niro) calls Malo over and tells him that he is the former partner of his father.  He also runs the Street Vice Crime Task Force and want Malo to join him at a local diner where police officers hang out.

And so, Malo goes to visit Vic Sarcone and Scarone offers  Malo a chance to make money by being a rogue police officer.  Taking drugs and money from dealers and re-selling it.  Working with the drug dealers on the street and making his time in the police force lucrative.  As Sarcone tells him that the police force is corrupted and the corruption reaches as a high as the mayor’s office, Malo can see himself making a lot of money.

All Malo has to do is agree to work with his new partner LaRue (as portrayed by Forest Whitaker) and not get himself in trouble with the major dealers.

Seeing this as a way to be a bad boy yet carry the badge and making some money, Malo agrees to help out Sarcone.  So, Captain Vic Sarcone hires Malo to work for his division.

While working with LaRue, Malo starts to see how this secretive rogue force are.  His partner La Rue is often wanting to stop and have sex with the ladies and always snorting cocaine.  While Malo tries to be cool, he starts to question his job of helping a partner that is out of it.  As LaRue tries to get Malo to sniff coke, Malo is not interested. All he cares is about making the money!

Meanwhile, AD and Lucas try to get used to their new partner.

AD works with his new partner, a veteran police officer who wants AD to use his skills to help young Black kids by coaching them for football but most of all, trying to groom AD in becoming a respectable Black man.

Meanwhile, Lucas works with Officer Billy Morrison, a racist cop.  Despite Lucas being a Caucasian with Black friends, Morrison tries to tell Lucas not to trust any colored people on the streets, or he will get killed.

As Malo grows closer to Sarcone and LaRue, during a secret meeting with the DA’s wife (as portrayed by Dana Delany), he learns that his father was working with the DA’s office, giving information on the dirty cops and not wanting to be tied down with them, as he wanted to protect is wife and son.   And so, Malo learns the truth of why his father is killed… Sarcone.

With Sarcone becoming suspicious of Malo, Malo becomes more interested in getting revenge on Sarcone for the death of his father.  But in order to get closer to Sarcone, Malo will have to play by Sarcone’s rules and win his trust.  Even if it may lead to his own demise!

VIDEO:

“Freelancers” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  Picture quality is very good for this film as colors are warm, very good detail on closeups of each character.  From seeing skin pores upfront to seeing the detail of their clothing.  Scenes were well-lit, black levels are nice and deep.  I didn’t notice any banding, artifacts or high level of DNR used in the video.  Overall, picture quality is very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Freelancers” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The lossless soundtrack is very good as we have hip hop beats utilizing the bass and sounding crystal clear coming from the front channels and also the surround channels.  As one can expect from a police drama, there are moments of action.  From gun and rifle shots, windows shattering, cars exploding, cars crashing and there is good use of the surround channels during these moments, as well as LFE utilization during the explosions or rifle shots.  Dialogue is also crystal clear and for the most part, I didn’t notice any audio problems during my viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Freelancers” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Director Jessy Terrero and Actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
  • Deleted Scenes – (18:35) A total of eleven deleted scenes including an alternate opening.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Interviews – (14:30) Interviews with Director Jessy Terrero, Producer Randall Emmett, Writer L. Philippe Casseus and Actors Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Garrett, Malcolm Goodwin, Ryan O’Nan and Anabelle Acosta.
  • Extended Interviews – (33:20) Extended interviews with Director Jessy Terrero, Producer Randall Emmett, Writer L. Philippe Casseus and Actors Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Garrett, Malcolm Goodwin, Ryan O’Nan and Anabelle Acosta.  Interviews are separated and not combined.
  • Trailer –  (2:32) The original red-band theatrical trailer for “Freelancers”.

I have to admit that when I first heard that Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson would be appearing in a film alongside Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker.  I was surprised.

To find out that 50 Cent would also be playing a police officer, that was another surprise.

After my review of “Gun”, despite the film being OK, I did compliment 50 Cent because not everyone from the music industry can easily transition into acting.  But for “Gun”, he showed that he has not only matured but as an actor he was showing improvement.

So, here we are in 2012 with “Freelancers”.  50 Cent now plays a police officer and before anyone rolls their eyes and starts thinking that 50 Cent being a police officer is some sort of oxymoron and is not possible, let me just say that he grew up as a troubled kid, reformed and got his police badge but yet still has the bad boy tendencies and eventually becomes a dirty cop.

But there is a twist to all this.  His father was a dirty cop who was now working with the DA to bust other corrupted police officers, in order to straighten out his life and protect his wife and child.  Unfortunately, 50 Cent’s character Malo starts to learn that the person that took him in, Captain Sarcone is responsible for his father’s demise and now Malo wants revenge.

And while “Freelancers” could be like an average action film like “Gun”, filmmaker Jessy Terrero and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had luck come their way because they were able to cast two Academy Award winning actors, Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker to star in this film.

I’m a true believer that when you work with quality talent, especially veterans, it makes you better, as a director and also as an actor.  As a director, Terrero was able to utilize Robert De Niro’s strength in playing the “Don’t Fuck with Me!” type of characters.   De Niro as Sarcone is a no-nonsense cop and the last man you want to double cross.

Forest Whitaker plays the dirty cop LaRue who unfortunately is dependent on the drugs and the women and plays the part effectively.

Two awesome actors and for 50 Cent, you have to be on your best game while interacting with them and I have to say that 50 Cent seemed to be on his best level acting wise, whenever he had screentime with DeNiro and Whitaker.  Even with Dana Delany, a talented actress who I was surprised to see in this film, 50 Cent is able to feed off the energy of these talents and I hope that in future films, he continues to be surrounded by well-known talents because his acting does get better.

The same can be said with Jessy Terrero.  It’s one thing to have a popcorn action flick but as a filmmaker to have well-known veterans starring in your film, that is quite significant.

With that being said, I do feel that both Terrero and 50 Cent were able to grow and take the next big step with “Freelancer”.  The concept was quite entertaining but at the same time, for those who respect our police officers, not sure if “Freelancers” is a film that shows any respect to them.  In fact, police officers in the film are shown as dirty cops in different levels.  If anything, writer L. Philippe Casseus has created officers who are involved in corruption and not to say it was intention to generalize that all police officers are corrupt but fortunately, we do see a few good cops or at least those who were bad and were inspired to be good.

But while the scenes with 50 Cent, De Niro and Whitaker were good, there were scenes that I just felt were forced.  From Lucas going crazy at a party, to a chase scene involving 50 Cent and a woman and even to a scene where 50 Cent has to make a tragic decision, the pacing seemed out of place.

And when it comes to acting, 50 Cent improved but as mentioned, he did his best scenes with De Niro and Whitaker, other scenes were good but not great.  Some may feel his acting was weak, but I tend to look at his acting as an improvement.  It was great for him to show that he can play a character role that is not straight up antagonistic and possibly a character that can be a decent guy.  Yes, he still doing the bad boy role, even for this film but it’s a different type of character role for him.  One that asks for him to not be so in-your-face, one that requires him to be patient, to be an action-star and also a scene that involves him trying to be emotional.  But he is getting better with each film and that is a positive.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great on HD.  Warm colors and no sign of banding or any artifacts during my viewing of the film.  Lossless soundtrack is immersive during action scenes and dialogue and hip hop music are crystal clear.  As for special features, you get an audio commentary, interviews and deleted scenes.

Overall, I did enjoy “Freelancers” much better than Terrero and 50 Cents’s last film “Gun”.  The fact that Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Dana Delany were in this film actually was a surprise but it definitely makes this film much more fun to watch and definitely helped 50 Cent improve as an actor and Terrero as a filmmaker.  And while De Niro and Whitaker are stars in the film, make no doubt about it, this is a Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson film.  Everything in this film revolves around his character.

But with some weaknesses in the screenplay and spotty acting, the film is possibly the best 50 Cent film by far, thanks to the addition of significant heavy hitters within its cast.  But I do feel that filmmaker Jessy Terrero made some tough decisions of which scenes to cut, eleven that you will see featured in the deleted scenes. But a few I did wish Terrero kept in the film to make the storyline and pacing a bit more smoother.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker together in the same film?  Believe it!  “Freelancers” is a crime drama about making choices, police corruption, betrayal and revenge and if you are in the mood to watching a gritty  drama about dirty cops and seeing 50 Cent in his best film yet, definitely give “Freelancers” a try!

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