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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.