To view or not to view is a question in the eye of the beholder. This is especially true in the case of Pierre Morel’s Freelance. The film follows an ex-special forces bodyguard tasked with protecting a journalist during an interview with a dictator when the three are unexpectedly caught in the middle of a military coup.
With John Cena at its helm, Freelance delivers action with dramatic fight scenes and a fiery helicopter crash. However, Jacob Lentz’s screenplay has front-runners Cena and Alison Brie falling flat in depthless characters positioned in a storyline riddled with tired cliches and confusing scenes.
Claire Wellington (Brie) is a Peabody award-winning journalist fallen from grace with hopes for a second chance in the form of an exclusive interview that somehow does not add much to the storyline. Her petulant attitude with flippant disregard for safety makes her a caricature of a damsel in distress at best. Unfortunately, Wellington primarily exists to provide access to a platform for publicizing the story and a reason for Mason Petitts (Cena) to be present, nothing more.
Cena, the narrator and center of the story, is only marginally better than Bries as Pettits, an ex-special forces turned lawyer in an unhappy marriage. He is portrayed as a judgemental man who looks down on the suburban family life that he is forced to live after a serious injury that ended his military career. While his situation is written to make him sympathetic to the audience, it has the opposite effect as the character comes across as permanently sour and frustratingly inflexible.
The movie as a whole kicks off with slow story development paired with poor camera choices shot in shaky, nausea-inspiring POV and soap opera lighting that only barely improves as the plot thickens. And by thickens… I mean, it goes from water to sugar syrup.
Jacob Lentz’s plot provides very little for you to sink your teeth into at all. From a poorly conceived romance that drops off just as quickly as it started to the groan-inducing attempts at humor, the film yo-yos between passable action and light dialogue in a way that leaves viewers confused about how they are supposed to feel.
To view…? Juan Pablo Raba as Presidenté Venegas and his accompanying storyline is the only redeeming factor. Raba portrays the cheeky but intelligent dictator that is humorously ridiculous at times and shockingly heartfelt at others. His refreshing storyline of a dictator who’s seen the light and decided to make a change for his people brings to life an otherwise dull movie.
…or not to view? Freelance has too many disappointments for it to be anything other than a skip. There are minor moments of interest if you are willing to sit through the overwhelmingly cringey majority, but it is better suited to disappear into the pool of bad movies quickly forgotten after their release.