NOW IN THEATERS! John Cena beats up the baddies and shoots a s**t ton of weapons and all with an ugly scowl on his face in Pierre Morel’s action/comedy Freelance. Mason Pettits (John Cena) is an ex-special forces operative who has embraced civilian life as a sub-par lawyer and is living a sad existence with his wife, Jenny (Alice Eve). Just when Mason thought he was out, they kept pulling him back in as his former special forces leader, Sebastian (Christian Slater), now needs him for an easy mission.
After a bit of convincing, Mason agrees to put his former life to use as a bodyguard to Claire Wellington (Alison Brie), a disgraced TV journalist, who has a career-changing opportunity to interview the dictator of Paldonia, Juan Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba). By the way, Venegas is responsible for the death of Mason’s former squad members.
Of course, Mason and Claire don’t get along at all. Claire doesn’t need the help of some military goon, and Mason can’t stand this self-important and recently “canceled” reporter. Quickly, Claire finds herself enraptured by the charismatic Venegas, and while on the way to his mansion for the interview, a military coup breaks out, forcing our trio to hide in the jungle for survival.
The biggest problem with Freelance is there’s nothing special about it. You’re really looking for a moment to remember…a moment that you talk about with friends long after seeing it. There are certainly attempts. I’ve been a fan of John Cena for a long time during his WWE run, and it is nice to see him in a movie, but nothing special. I’m a fan of Alison Brie, too, but she is the typical stand-off-ish career-oriented woman who eventually has to find some way to like Cena’s Mason character.
“…Mason agrees to put his former life to use as a bodyguard to Claire Wellington, a disgraced TV journalist…”
Then the film goes into twist mode, where everything you’ve been told to believe in the first half of the movie has been wrong, and now you need to believe in a completely different set of lies and faulty assumptions about a myriad of side characters. We’re constantly being asked to shift alliances toward the dictator Venegas, but by the end, we just don’t care, and every emotion we have about him is forced upon us in the end.
Yes, if you like action, guns, death, and car chases, Freelance has plenty of it. Just like every other action film before it. If you’re going to make a movie like Freelance, you’ve got to find a single moment (preferably two or three) that stands out and is mind-blowingly different than any other film. It doesn’t happen, and ultimately, the story doesn’t take itself seriously enough for me to take it seriously.
Let me be honest again. The ending is a bit of a mess, as if it was rushed to get it over with. One element of the ending I’m referring to is the relationship between Mason and his boss, Sebastian. In a typical action film, there’d be a bit of a conflict…a twist, as it were. I’d bet there was a different ending in the original script. Are we subverting expectations or prepping for a sequel and the return of Slater?
Ultimately, Freelance is not special enough for me to care whether it lives on as a new franchise or lives on in my video collections. It just feels like a movie that was made because Cena and Brie agreed to star in it.
"…the story doesn't take itself seriously enough for me to take it seriously."