Late one evening, Brenda Martin, a thirty-seven year old Caucasian woman from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks, enters Dempsy Medical Center in Dempsy, New Jersey with minor injuries, but she is also emotionally distraught. One of the people to who she tells her story is Dempsy Police Detective Lorenzo Council, a black man. That story is that she was just carjacked by another unknown black man when she took a shortcut that she had never traveled between the Armstrong housing projects, where she works at the Rainbow Club, a children's center, and her home in Gannon, New Jersey. Her emotional distress is because her four year old son, Cody, was asleep in the back seat of the car and is thus now in the hands of the carjacker. Brenda's brother, Danny Martin, a police detective in Gannon, cannot help but get directly involved in the investigation despite he operating outside his jurisdiction. His actions do not sit well with Council, who he insinuates is not only not doing his job, ...Written by
Caught an advance screening a week ago, the same one attended by the other reviewer.
It's a sad day when a movie is made with its sights set on an Oscar award AND box office at the same time. For me, the mere intent can undermine a good idea - what to say of a bad one? That's what happens in this botched and overblown attempt at a drama/thriller (some may say a cross between a 70's racial drama and "The Forgotten" - on speed). IT IS a bad idea from the start - everyone in Hollywood knows the trouble that is adapting a lengthy book to the screen. But when you couple that with Oscar aspirations - for acting, I suppose - you have a recipe for disaster.
The basic story line is that of a single mom that gets car-jacked while lost in a public park and then proceeds to tell the police (after much "emotion") that her son is still in the car with the criminal. Pretty much what all thrillers are about, right? Well, everything is kosher except that she is white and the park where it all took place happens to be right in the middle of a poor, black neighborhood.
As the viewer would have guessed, the main topics here are the racial conflict - "violent" white cops versus "angry" black mob - and the desperate search for the kid.
As director and screenwriter tried to keep every single thread present in the book, things eventually get extremely confusing. We never get a feel for the characters or a sense of fulfillment. Many of the threads feel incomplete and others seem like mere sketches that went along for the ride.
More so, Joe Roth's directing style is frenetic and restless. I'd say he could do a great action flick, but here so much movement ends up wasted and actually annoys the viewer.
Finally, to keep this short, the acting goes from OK to histrionic. I truly feel sorry for Julianne Moore - she is a great actress trapped in a recycled role. Samuel Jackson is another casualty; his talent is wasted on another empty character, an amalgam that doesn't work despite his visible effort. Many dislike the score, but I did enjoy it for some obscure reason.
Well, as you guys can see, "Freedomland" is a disappointment and I would highly recommend a DVD screening for this one since it is my personal belief that we should see a little bit of everything in a protected environment.
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