Saturday, January 7, 2012

Freejack (1992)

Directed by Geoff Murphy. Starring Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, and Jonathan Banks.

Specifically sought out by a group of futuristic bounty hunters, a race car driver named Alex Furlong (Emilio Estevez) is zapped out of present day (early 90's) and into the future, where he finds himself as the prey in a large scale manhunt. A megacorporation reigns supreme and specializes in some sort of body-swapping procedure, which consists of clientele paying big bucks to essentially transfer their souls into the more nubile younger bodies of unfortunate victims who are plucked out of the past. Turns out Alex is the prime candidate for the aforementioned procedure; a mysterious figure with ties to the megacorporation wants to look like Emilio Estevez, and he'll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Can you blame him?

The year: 2009.

Technology is significantly avdanced, social disorder is prominent, cops wear armor and brandish laser guns, people drive around dome-shaped vehicles, modified dune buggies and Hummers with infra-red windshields, and fashion has apparently been at a standstill since the late 80's/early 90's.

I love that about dystopian/post-apocalypse movies made in the 80's and 90's; the future is greatly exaggerated in terms of technology and living conditions, but yet the fashion faux pas remain the same. According to this particular film's version of 2009, dudes rock jheri curls and mullets, and sophisticated women still think tops with giant shoulder pads look attractive. Not fashion-related, but at one point a dude goes into a gunfight with a samurai sword; I half expected him to put on a rising-sun headband, but unfortunately it wasn't the case - it probably would have raised my score a whole point higher.

Once Alex ends up in the future, one of his goals (aside from obviously staying alive) is to reunite with his wife (Rene Russo), who he was abruptly taken away from when he was time-warped against his will. Of course there's an initial state of confusion on Alex's part as he can't comprehend the idea of time travel and merely thinks he just woke up from a coma after a racing accident, so that aspect of his character comes into play during the film's first act as he attempts to adapt to his surroundings. Not exactly a far cry from other films of its ilk in terms of plot structure, and unfortunately this remains the case throughout the entire movie. FREEJACK doesn't scream originality, and it could be argued that it's hurt even further by the fact that it doesn't have a contemporary "action hero" in the lead role. However, it could also be argued that Emilio Estevez brings a believable everyman quality to his role that simply couldn't be accomplished with an Arnold Schwarzenegger and the like.

Another interesting casting choice is Mick Jagger as the lead "bone-jacker" who works for the shadowy corporate figures in the film. As everyone who's seen Mick Jagger act knows, you can't expect anything more than Jagger being Jagger, which isn't necessarily a bad thing depending on the type of film it is; luckily, FREEJACK isn't something that people watch for great acting, so his distinguishable voice, accent, and delivery can only add to creating a memorable bad guy. The downside is that his character is actually a bit subdued and the script doesn't give him much rope in terms of letting him chew the scenery.

Aside from boasting an interesting cast, FREEJACK has a BLADE RUNNER-esque cyberpunk aesthetic and features many of the genre conventions and cliches. Compared to its post-apocalyptic, dystopian brethren, FREEJACK is a middle-tier cyberpunk movie and not a must-see of the genre, but it's worth checking out nonetheless because of a quick pace, some occasionally fun moments, and a generally light tone throughout. Great soundtrack too, with synth-infused score from composer Trevor Jones and songs by Industrial Metal icons Ministry and alternative acts like Jesus Jones and Jesus & Mary Chain. And while it was released in 1992, FREEJACK has an 80's aesthetic that fans of film from that era will love. And, lest we forget, Amanda Plummer playing a foul-mouthed, shotgun-toting nun, and a random guy playing saxophone in an alley.

Make or Break: There wasn't a particular scene in the film that made it for me, so I'll just go with any time Mick Jagger was on screen. Again, not an over the top performance on his part by any means, but he has an undeniable presence, and if you can picture Jagger saying lines like "OK, let's DO IT!" as he leads his bounty hunters into battle, you'll get an idea of what's in store. David Johansen is also a highlight, as he always is in everything he's in. Speaking of lines, my favorite piece of dialogue in the film comes not from Jagger but from a supporting character, who, as he lays on the ground dying from gunshot wounds, asks Estevez's character to "Keep my grandma smiling." A loaded last request, but OK.

MVT: I'm gonna go with the overall look of the film. The film had a decent enough budget of $30 million and it shows. Not an extravagant film in terms of production, but the effects - both practical and special - were pretty good for the time it was made.

Score: 6.75/10


  1. Nice review, Aaron.

    Mullets, like cockroaches, could probably survive a nuclear war (and definitely could stand up against small-arms ordnance). That's why they're so great, I think.

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