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"Freelance" Review

 After the dour bummer of May December we were in the mood for something more entertaining and superfluous. Unfortunately, we chose Freelance as the follow-up.

Let's get this over with: Jon Cena stars as a former Special Forces operator Mason who was badly injured and half his squad killed when a mission to assassinate the dictator of fictional South American nation of Paladonia, Juan Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba), goes sideways after his chopper is shot down. Incapable of soldiering, he goes back to law school, marries Jenny (Alice Eve, playing mom roles already?), has an adorable little girl, and starts a small legal practice and generally hates his dull life. (Because being married to Alice Eve is a bummer?)

 One day, former Army buddy Sebastian (Christian Slater) shows up with a proposition. He's started a private military services company (read: mercenaries) and wants Mason to handle an easy personal protection gig for a reporter, Claire (Alison Brie), who is going to interview Venegas. Naturally, Mason isn't too warm on the idea of having to play nice with a man he blames for his lot in life, but with his marriage on shaky ground and Sebastian offering 20,000 reasons to take the gig, he reluctantly agrees.

Arriving in Paladonia, they are going to Venegas' ranch when they are attacked resulting in the dictator's men being killed and Mason killing all the attackers. A coup has been launched by Venegas' idiot nephew who's being puppeteered by Evil Corporate Forces after Paladonia's rich natural resources. Traveling on foot, Mason, Claire and Venagas have a series of wacky hijnks and near death scrapes.

The fundamental problem with Freelance begins (as usual) with a mediocre script by first-time writer Jacob Lentz (who was a writer for Jimmy Kimmel which explains why it's not funny) which doesn't know if it wants to be a bloody military action flick or a frothy bickering odd couple/fish out of water comedy. Compounding the tonal mess is the reliance on change-ups, double-crosses, sudden reveals and twists which get to the point where you don't care about the revelations because you expect another inversion to be right around the corner. The twists involving Venegas and the doomed mission and whether Sebastian was involved are also a mess. (I'm not even counting the silliness about how Claire was supposedly a disgraced journalist for not verifying what a source told her when the New York Times and Washington Post won and refused to return Pulitzer Prizes for their fictional reporting of the debunked Trump-Russia Collusion story.)

While the major selling point is that it was directed by Pierre Morel (Taken, District 13), it looks cheap like an episode of The A-Team and he can't balance the tonal goulash and the action sequences are dull. With not much of a script to work with, the performances are passable. Cena glowers, Brie bubbles, Raba is a chipper despot, Eve looks tired.

A more talented writer than Lentz may've been able to whip up a frothier adventure comedy - I kept rewriting scenes in my head as I watched - but we can only watch what they made and Freelance needs to be unemployed.

Score: 3/10. Skip it.


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