Film falls short but has a pay-off
DIRECTOR: Jesse Terrero
CAST: Curtis ‘50 Cent' Jackson, Robert de Niro and Forest Whitaker
CLASSIFICATION: 16 LVNSPD
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
Fiddy and company reach for a working formula. By now we’ve seen the rapper, who was born Curtis Jackson, shot nine times and rumoured to have cheated on Chelsea Handler, in a number of films.
So we’re past the can-he-act question. He flexes his skill (and those machine gun arms) in Freelancers while Whitaker steals the show. Fiddy, as 50 Cent is known, plays Jonas Maldonado and everyone calls him Malo for short.
After a short montage of his stint in jail as a young man (along with three friends), the next time we see Malo and his friends, they are surrounded by well-wishers as they toast to graduating from the academy and making it into the police force.
The background story is that Malo hero-worshipped his slain father who was a cop and his dad’s former partner, Captain Joe Sarcone (de Niro) never lets him forget how great his father was.
The “your father was ” game gets really tired when uttered in every chemistry-starved scene shared by de Niro and Jackson.
Anyway, Sarcone recruits Malo into the shady cop fraternity – an expansive ring that leads up to the most wanted mobster of the day – but neglects to tell Malo how his father really died.
Vengeance is mine, said the Lord, and when it all hits the fan, Malo deems himself a god.
Like in Mario van Peebles’ directorial debut, New Jack City, we have a rapper in real life, playing a cop who has to pretend he is something he is not.
But unlike the cult classic movie starring Ice T and Wesley Snipes, Freelancers is more rap music video (with its topless women filling the screen and copious references to cocaine and more) and less art.
Surprisingly, the soundtrack – a mixture of techno and euro trash – doesn’t fit the scenes that show old people catching up in clubs or the drug dealer who sells to kids and pregnant women but who then manages to break into parkor when chased.
Whitaker is refreshing as a rogue cop who is heavily dependant on illegal substances. Fiddy is uptight and sometimes his story-telling is inaudible thanks to 50 Cent being shot in his cheek and incurring a speech impediment.
This robs the audience.
Whitaker, on the other hand, is a pleasure to watch as he embodies what a functioning addict is like.
The racial divides and blatant racism explored in Freelancers were reaching for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing but fall ridiculously short.
But 50 Cent fans won’t be bothered by this.
At the end of the day, Freelancers has its pay-off – it’s entertaining – but in some parts it becomes strenuous work to keep up with what Fiddy is saying.
If you liked … New Jack City … you’ll think this needed more work.