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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

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.