Freedomland

"Very Good"

Freedomland Review


Unless you've burned through Richard Price's 1998 novel Freedomland, it's tough to pinpoint which direction this taut adaptation is headed. What starts as a routine police investigation erupts into a race riot before collapsing into a chilling portrait of a deranged killer.

Price accepted the challenge of converting his own novel into a shootable screenplay, which is good news. He retains the suspense and social commentary that strengthened his book. Sony then turned the script over to Joe Roth, which should terrify anyone who sat through the director's dippy America's Sweethearts or foul Christmas with the Kranks. Fear not, for Roth lets slip a gritty side as he allows Price to guide us through some darkened passages, literally and figuratively.

The film immediately establishes a New Jersey turf battle waged between Gannon, the upscale white suburb, and its less-advantaged neighboring village of Dempsey. One routine evening, Dempsey detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) responds to a carjacking alert. The victim, Brenda (Julianne Moore), was on her way home to Gannon from her volunteer job at Armstrong House, a Dempsey tenement project that's predominantly occupied by blacks. She tells Lorenzo she was dragged from her vehicle and left for dead. Brenda's in a state of shock, seemingly unaware of Lorenzo's steady line of questioning until she musters the courage to whisper the film's notable hook - her four-year-old son Cody was in the car.

In seconds, Freedomland goes from zero to 60. Brenda's brother Danny (Ron Eldard), a Gannon cop, storms the scene and barricades Armstrong House in hopes of flushing out a suspect. Brenda shuts down mentally and physically, impeding Lorenzo's investigation. And citizens on both sides of the widening racial divide are aggravated by the increasing police presence.

Price honed his skills on similarly mature features like Clockers and Sea of Love, and doesn't hesitate to turn Freedomland into a black-and-white issue. The film emphasizes how race can escalate an already heated situation and prevent sharp minds from responding rationally. As the cops crack down, the streets grow mean. So, too, does the language, though no matter how coarse, it rolls off Jackson's tongue. He even invents a few curse words that will probably shock and impress dock workers and gangster rappers.

After pushing the Lorenzo-Brenda-Danny conflict as far as it can, Freedomland flips a much-needed wild card by ushering in Friends of Kent - a coalition of concerned parents led by Karen Collucci (Edie Falco) that helps find missing children. It's an easy twist, and one that relieves the tension placed on Jackson and Moore. The wonderful Falco provides stabilization to an inflammatory thriller that could have overemphasized its messages or careened toward camp.

Price and Roth sustain their central mystery regarding Cody's whereabouts, yet the kidnapped child ends up being one of many surprises laced throughout the script. Jackson tunes up the tougher-than-leather detective bit he brought to Shaft (also penned by Price), while Moore's constant hysterics give way to a deeper, harder, more tragic performance. The screenplay does tip its hand to the final reveal, and those paying very close attention might end up one step ahead of Lorenzo as the case proceeds. Still, it's satisfyingly chilling the places this movie dares to go.

Free at last!



Freedomland

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th February 2006

Box Office USA: $12.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $14.7M

Budget: $37.7M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Production compaines: Revolution Studios, Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 114

IMDB: 5.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Scott Aversano, ,

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson as Lorenzo Council, as Brenda Martin, as Karen Collucci, as Felicia, as Boyle, as Billy Williams, as Lt. Gold, as Leo Sullivan, as Dr. Anil Chatterjee, as Priest, as Reverend Longway, LaTanya Richardson as Marie, Portia as Doreen / Rafik's Sister, Fly Williams III as Rafik, Haneefah Wood as Vicky / Rafik's Sister, Donna Cutugno as Elaine, Genevieve Hudson-Price as Tina, Joe Forbrich as Hal, as Danny Martin, as Jason Council, Chance Kelly as Visored Cop at Riot

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.