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I wanted to like it, and I did
cladrkt18 February 2006
I'll admit, I read the novel a few years ago and I was a big fan of it. So I went into the theater already wanting to like the movie. I wasn't as concerned with plot details as some other viewers apparently were. Since I knew what was going to happen, I simply focused on reliving the story, and seeing how the filmmakers interpreted it. It's such a dense novel with so much going on, I think Richard Price is the only person who could've adapted it and still kept the spirit of the original material. Now, all that being said...was it a good movie? In my opinion, yes it was. I felt empathy for all the characters (except Brenda's brother, who I felt contempt for). I was surprised that I was able to empathize with Brenda's character, but I credit Julianne Moore for that. She gave a performance that was filled with pain, and confusion, and fear, and all the emotions I would have imagined Brenda would be going through. Samuel Jackson played Lorenzo just as I hoped he would. Not over the top with a bunch of yelling and fist pounding. But as a man who realizes all too well what can happen when a white woman points the finger at a black man and yells "He did it!" The biggest problem I have with the movie is the way that it's being marketed. If I hadn't read the book, I would've never gone to see it based on it's trailer. It looks like just another missing child thriller. So I can understand why some viewers felt cheated when they saw the movie and realized that it's much more complex than that. It's about the politics of race, and how they can be manipulated. It's about the uneasy truce that exists in some communities, and how quickly a fuse can be lit to ignite tension. And most importantly, it's about people making choices that they regret, and the aftermath of those choices.

If you're looking for a missing child thriller, or a theatrical version of a CSI episode, this probably isn't for you. If a tough examination of race and class makes you uncomfortable, then don't bother with this one. But if you want to challenge yourself as a viewer, and get inside the minds of characters who are trying desperately to hold their worlds together, then I think you'll get something out of this film.
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corrie-1513 August 2006
This movie was better than people give it credit for. I thought I was in for an average flick, but I was pleasantly surprised. And no, I don't mean that you couldn't figure out the gist of the plot, but it was well done, especially the scores. The music really made the film. Julianne Moore delivered an accurate ex-drug-addicted, scattered person, and Samuel l. Jackson was right-on. I'd recommend this film to anyone who has an open mind. This film is probably a lot closer to reality than people would like to think, that's what makes it good. No, it is not a smash 'em up Hollywood style action/suspense film, but it was good nonetheless.
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Flawed and miscast but good.
barberoux24 February 2006
"Freedomland" will not be a popular movie. The movie doesn't have enough action and the action is does contain is more to promote a message than to titillate. Its message is basically about inner city racism. Its about the fuss made over a missing white child in a black community. The story is about a white women who was car-jacked in a housing project and, unknown to the jacker, her 4 year old son was in the car's back seat. You'll have to see the movie to see the rest since revealing the story would completely ruin the movie. I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the performances by Samuel Jackson, William Forsythe and Ron Eldard were realistic and affecting. One standout was Edie Falco. She played a very unglamorous role and was powerfully affecting. She should get an Academy Award nomination for this role. She was fabulous. Another standout was Julianne Moore who was very miscast. I did not like her in this role. She played a very weak, flawed and emotionally stunted individual whose behavior at times turned my stomach. I did not like the character. The character was not written to be liked, maybe pitied and I think that aspect is what Ms. Moore was trying to evoke. I think she did too good a job at making her character weak and flawed and missed a toughness that the book's character had. To live in the environment that she did she would have acquired more emotional survival skills than the movie's character portrayed. Ms. Moore's character looked like she wandered onto the set from a suburban mall. Her looks and demeanor next to the strong Black women characters made her appear too weak and her obstinacy appears to be more stupidity. I think Edie Falco could have played this role better with her strength and then the revelations and breakdown when the toughness crumbled would have been more effective. The movie is unfortunately being advertised as a thriller and audiences expecting action and things blowing up will be disappointed. "Freedomland" is one of those movies that Hollywood doesn't get or know what to do with but it is a very worthwhile movie to see. I gave it a 7 out 10. I downgraded it slightly because of Ms. Moore's performance.
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Most stereotyped film ever… wait, it looks quite real to me.
vmarthirial30 July 2006
First mistake of this film was marketing (after all, it's all about marketing) Billing it as a thriller/action movie with some paranormal slant was wrong. This is strictly a psychological drama with zero paranormal stuff in it.

Second mistake was to make reality too real and not idealized or artistic to stay away of the touchy issues addressed: Race, police prejudice, social differences.

So if you went to the movie theater or the rental place to watch a thrilling action film staying right on the surface of entertainment and shock value, you will be disappointed. This is a nicely acted, well constructed and most importantly, realistic drama in which a white woman blames the kidnap of her son as a carjack conducted by an African-American male.

As far as I am concern, there was no stereotyping, just realism. There was no siding on the moralistic virtues of one or other side. Actually, this is a quite profound exploration of the reasons to lie, the be racist, to fear prejudice and to resist the fact that a social interaction between poor and rich, white and black, civilian and policemen will probably be fair in a near future… not now.

My only concern was to see Ms. Moore so stressed during 90% of the film, quite impressive performance. Just hope she doesn't take this as her type-cast.
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Two strong performances can't save this weak melodrama
christian12324 June 2006
Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel Jackson) must separate the truth from the lies when a troubled woman (Julianne Moore) shows up at the emergency room claiming that a black man from the projects carjacked her, taking her 4-year-old son, who was sleeping in the back seat.

Freedomland is a disappointing film that fails to take advantage of its talented cast and intriguing premise. The movie fails because Joe Roth is a terrible director. He tries to handle a bunch of different issues and he just doesn't mix them very well. He also introduces different characters and subplots but he doesn't build on them. Also, for a movie tackling serious issues, it was pretty unrealistic. The whole lock-down scenario was completely over the top and unnecessary. The kidnapping story had a bunch of holes and the way the cops handled the situation was pretty irresponsible. All the characters were stereotypes and most of them were unlikable. There were a lot of scenes dealing with racism but the film never actually dealt with them or settled them. The ending was total letdown and very little was actually settled, making the whole movie experience pointless.

The acting is the film's only strong point with Samuel L. Jackson giving the best performance. His performance felt a little familiar but it was still effective and his emotions never felt forced. Julianne Moore went completely over the top with her performance. She was annoying and completely unrealistic. Also, it was hard to feel sorry for her character because she was so unlikable and her actions were just terrible. Edie Falco came out of nowhere and she gave a pretty moving performance. She played the only likable character in the film and it was easy to feel sorry for her. The rest of the supporting actors were below average and no one else broke out.

Along with the acting, there were a few other good things about the film. There were a couple of engaging scenes that could have been better if the director had built on them. The script was also decent and it could have been turned into a good film. The movie also had an interesting style to it and at least it sort of engages the viewer. While the film was pretty messy, it held my attention until the end. Of course, the performances helped with that but the storyline had a chance to build. Unfortunately, it didn't and the movie ends with a whimper. In the end, Freedomland is an annoying melodrama with very few redeeming qualities. Rating 4/10
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Not even a good try
philwf22 February 2006
This movie was a real disappointment to me. All the elements for a fine picture were here. Good story, good actors. Sadly, the picture was not put together well. First blame should go to the director who was not able to restrict himself to the story lines he would be able to tell effectively. Next to blame is also the director who edited the film with superfluous characters and dead end plot lines. Several very good acting performances were squandered in this mishmash. Julliene Moore and Samuel L. were great (As always). Ron Eldard is a favorite of mine. He never gets the romantic lead, but provides great dramatic wallop. Unfortunately his character had nothing to do with the story. Typically, the scene where he overhears the confession of Billy is meaningless, nothing comes of it and his character disappears afterward. I'm not sure this was even a good try. Save your money.
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Most movies are saved in the editing. This one is *not!*
jspenc15 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen my share of bad movies. This one rates way, way, way down there. First off, it is misrepresented by the ads. The trailer makes it look like a supernatural thriller, recalling Moore's then recent (and also poor) release, The Forgotten. There are NO supernatural elements in this movie. If you expect any, **you will be disappointed.** Second, the performances left something to be desired. Especially Julianne Moore. I am not her biggest fan, but this was an especially poor performance on her part. She seemed to just be acting stoned or something. She would meander around the set, rock back and forth, and stare off into space when she was not babbling in a phony beyond belief accent. The rest of the cast does not come off much better. Motivations seem to shift wildly between scene transitions. Actions are taken from out of nowhere, without any logical progression.

I think the first problem is the script. This is based on a novel and apparently the story was a bit too complicated to bring to the screen. That is, the story is pretty straightforward and bone-simple. What made the book worth reading was how the author did it. That does not translate easily to the screen.

Probably the biggest flaw for me was the titular Freedomland. In the novel, Freedomland referred to an abandoned amusement park which was the scene of an extensive search as well as a reference to the people being locked into their own homes part of the plot (which was short changed IMO. The whole racial thing was there, but never explored or addressed, really. The whole movie, you were given reminders of the tension that was supposed to be building, but it never, ever pays off). In the movie, the name was transfered to some abandoned orphanage. Once again, the trailer leads us to believe falsely. The trailer made it sound like this Freedomland would somehow play a major role in the plot, like some dark secret was held here or something. That is not what happen. **SPOILERS** What happens is the detective and rescue volunteer seem to be thinking the mother had killed her child and took her there in a ploy to get her to confess. And it worked. **END SPOILERS** This, of course, makes no sense, but the seemingly random character actions are to blame.

Most of this can be blamed on the editing. Most screen actors would stink up the room if you use everything they do. It's the editor's job to make sure they use the best performances and cut the film so that character actions make sense, etc. This just didn't happen here. Freedomland may still have not been an especially good movie, but it could have been a lot less bad if the editing had been up to snuff.

On the plus side, I think Samuel L Jackson is wearing the same hat Gene Hackman wore in The French Connection.
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"We are going to find your son!" Agent Lorenzo (Samuel L. Jackson)
MichaelMargetis22 February 2006
I think Joe Roth was aiming for something deeper with 'Freedomland'. It's not necessarily a bad movie, but it isn't really a good one either. From an acting stand-point, it's great with solid performances from Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown) as a determined police detective and Julianne Moore (The Forgotten) as a whacked-out dead-beat mom who's son has been kidnapped. Edie Falco is also pretty good with a role that's anything but Mrs. Soprano. The writing or dialogue, however, is absolutely terrible. I think 'Freedomland' actually wouldn't be a half-bad movie if the screenwriter put as much work into the character's conversations as he did the creativity of the racial epithets spewed through-out the film. 'Freedomland' annoyed me in a sense that the movie trailers made it out to be something it's not -- a taut, mystery/thriller, when in reality it's a film about racial and economical tensions. 'Freedomland' is pretentious in that it thinks it's an Oscar-caliber film when in reality it's a slightly above-average suspense film filled to the brim with tired clichés. 'Freedomland' is enjoyable if you can see through it's smug undeserved sense of brilliance. Grade: C .(screened at AMC Deer Valley 30, Phoenix, Arizona, 2/20/05)
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skip it
queen_beet12 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I did not care for this movie at all. I thought it looked good from the previews, but was very disappointed. Julianne Moore gets carjacked and, unbeknownst to the thief, her 4-year old son is in the back seat. If the writer had stuck to this concept it could have been cool. The previews also made it seem like the story could center around this creepy, abandoned children's home named Freedomland, but maybe 10 minutes of the whole movie took place there. Julianne Moore was just very frustrating because she couldn't get a complete thought out at ANY point in the entire movie. Her son goes missing, which is sad, but I feel more like I'm watching a drugged-up woman rather than a grieving mother. Also frustrating were the 72 other sub-plots that were going on. Some characters are introduced, but the reasoning for their introduction is never made clear. I felt like it was just too many bits and pieces that didn't amount to much. I like Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson, but I do not like this film.
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Cheap Race Hustling Movie Trying to Be Profound
Jakealope16 June 2008
This movie was a crock from the start. The writer Price is some white liberal who anointed himself as an interpreter of inner city blacks to us ignorant white yahoos. His previous venture was the better "Clockers", which was made into a lame movie by Spike Lee. In a country where the two latest racial flaps were a black whore falsely accusing 3 frat boys of rape and that case dragged on for a year in spite of the fact EVERY shred of evidence pointed to their innocence and the woman changed her story with the weather. Don't forget how every white academic liberal and their black studies cohort spewed venom on the students based on the old ante-bellum "slaves being raped by massa" myth, which goes against reality where there are 112 black on white rapes for every case of the reverse. Or the Jena 6 case where six violent black youths beat a white kid silly. But since some nooses were hung months earlier, which had nothing to do with either race or the kid they beat, the black power movement and the white liberal drones descended on Jena to exonerate the punks and excoriate the town. But, in their defense, I do add that attempted murder was too steep a charge, but those Jena 6 punks belong in jail, not addressing the NAACP or appearing on BET.

Back to the movie, this wigged out white mother, Julianne Moore, claimed she was carjacked and her kid was taken from her, and this happened in the projects. She is no racist, as a matter of fact she works in the same project in the day care center, along with her son who is in the class. So naturally everyone goes haywire trying to find the kid. There are shades of the 1994 Susan Smith case, the murdering Southern mom who killed her kids then tried to blame it on a black man. But, as I remember, the police never bought her story and never shut down a project either. Her brother is a white cop in the neighboring working class suburb. Natch, he's a racist and angry as heck. Yet even he thinks his sister is a loser who is hiding something. So the suburban cops buffalo themselves into the city and shut down the project This is the first bit of unreality. As if the city and the mayor are going to put up with this. As if ten thousand lawyers, civil rights protesters, Sharpton rabble rousers and Nation of Islam thugs wouldn't descend on this city in a matter of hours; this in the middle of New Jersey not the Sudan, in 1999, not 1949. That alone makes most of the other racial drama superfluous. Then there is the other persistent whine about "Our black kids go missing and you do nothing, but when a white kid goes missing....", like the black on black crime whine(as if black on white crime is acceptable), this falls on deaf ears to me since it is the criminal street code of silence and the horrid conditions of black inner city "families" that hinder solving and creates the conditions for those crimes and tragedies.

The movie quickly devolves into an almost father - daughter relation between Detective Council, Sam Jackson, and the distraught mother Brenda Martin, played by Julianne Moore. Credit must be given to Ms. Moore for her thankless performance of a really messed up woman, as well as to Edie Falco, who played a woman who finds lost children and helps crack the case. Samuel Jackson played the requisite strong black guy who sets all the racist whites, as well as his brood in the projects, straight. He even had a chance to quell the requisite racial confrontation in the end by telling everyone the case was solved, but that would have been too simple. I wonder if all those black cops in New Orleans, the ones who looted and abandoned their posts during the flood or committed violent crimes on the side should invite him in as a role model? He even has a nice working class white guy cop sidekick, William Forsythe, just to make us trailer trash feel a little better about themselves, "Find a strong black man to teach you and you can be enlightened as I am", is what the writer seems to be saying through him. As a missing child case, this might had made a good Lifetime movie. But with the hyped up, dishonestly created racial tension as the theme, it is an exercise in affirmative action film-making designed to elicit outrage when none was called for.
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Honestly, one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
Terminator97C20 April 2007
"Freedomland" falls flat in every possible way a movie can. The story is boring, the viewer does not care about the characters, and the movie goes nowhere. The film is set in 1999, which is odd because nothing during the course of the movie makes it necessary for it to take place during that time period.

The story begins with Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore) walking into a hospital with wounds on her hands after being carjacked. Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) is called in to ask her further questions. Brenda then tells him the story and blames the carjacking on an unidentified black male. It also then occurs to her that her son was also in the stolen car.

Brenda's brother is detective Danny Martin (Ron Eldard) of a neighboring police department. Trying to find his nephew quickly he puts the all black neighborhood where the carjacking took place under lock down. Since no one is allowed to leave the residents of the area start to get upset and unruly.

To diffuse the situation Detective Council rushes to find Brenda's son before riots break out in the neighborhood or Brenda's son is found dead. As the story unfolds we find that there is more to the story then we know.

"Freedomland" tries to deliver a twist ending at the end, but everyone in the audience can see it coming. Ironically the movie openly tells you many times what the ending is going to be. Though when the truth is told we are supposed to be shocked and amazed.

Even this strong cast of actors cannot save this movie from being totally lost. Samuel L. Jackson really underplays his role as Detective Council. Jackson is probably the loudest actor in Hollywood and the one role that needs it he does not deliver. Julianne Moore on the other hand overplays her role as Brenda who instead of a grieving mother comes off as a lunatic. By the end of this movie the viewer has no sympathy for her character because she is so annoying and irrational.

The true shame about this movie is how it poorly tries to bring in themes of racial inequality. It seemed like an original set up by using the characters in the black neighborhood in lock down. Unfortunately the points the film is trying to make take a back seat to the boring story of Brenda and her missing kid. The racial ideas are then never fully developed and just fall short as a type of afterthought.

Also, what happened to this movie being a supernatural thriller? Every advertisement has shown the movie involving the child going missing for some mysterious reasons. The real story has nothing to do with the supernatural. The movie should not even be considered a thriller because nothing exciting or suspenseful ever takes place. Instead we just dragged along with these characters knowing exactly what is going to happen at the end.

"Freedomland" is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. It really should be an educational video of how not to make a movie because there is nothing good about this film.
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Julianne Moore owes me, big time...
salted111 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I thought the Forgotten sucked. This movie was easily the worst movie I've seen in years. I would rather have been a victim in a "Saw" movie than be subjected to an hour of a half of Julianne Moore being crazy. How can you establish a character to be respected in the community and trusted to care for children when she is border-line psychotic and is completely relying on the good graces, and patience of others to find her son? This is not one woman's battle to find her son against all odds. This was one woman's plea to have a nap while one cop did stuff, a black Reverend stirred up descent in his community against a ridiculously staged imprisonment of an inner city slum by cops, who looked very surprised when the inevitable race riot started. There was not one redeeming thing in this movie, other than it was good to see working again. It's about racism. I get it. But the premise was so utterly absurd, I can't believe it could be followed through. It's a story, true enough, but in my mind, there are so many other ways to do it. Do cops play favourites with white and black issues? Maybe. Would cops shut down an entire projects to shakedown a community into giving up a potential car jacker with world-wide media covering the story? Maybe in China. Julianne Moore, the grieving mother, who so obviously obstructs any effort to find her son, while at the same time, subjecting the audience to how much she loves her little boy, can only foreshadow the inevitable "twist" which was hypothesised within the first twenty minutes. Then the twenty minute, wailing speech that somehow tries to justify, or redeem one of the worst depictions of a mother I've ever seen. Then the movie still carries on for another ten minutes or so. Don't open it. Don't rent it. Don't start watching it. It's like a train wreck. You may want to see it through to the end, and when it's over, you'll be angry. Remember those stupid commercials the studios put out telling us not to pirate videos, that it's against the law, that it's stealing? I think I just got robbed of my rental fee.
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Julianne Moore is Superb!
wahzoh2 June 2006
I saw this film on DVD with a friend last night, and we were both stunned at the amazing performance turned in by Julianne Moore. She seems to have gotten into a little bit of a "missing child rut" (she also starred in "The Forgotten", another one with a theme of a lost child), but here her performance had me glued to the screen. In particular, there is a scene in the police station where Moore is talking to Samuel L. Jackson in an interview room which was just an amazing piece of acting. I hope she gets an Oscar nod for this work. Some of the reviewers who have read the book seem to have been disappointed, but not having read the book, I didn't have anything to compare it to.

This is not a regular thriller with car chases, etc. It doesn't really fit into any of the categories people normally plug their movies into. I'm glad I saw it, and I have a new respect for Moore as an actress.
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hated it
camilla-912 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I just sat through this film and feel very cheated. I had the task of bringing home a good thriller for my family and they gave up and went to bed 20 minutes in. I decided to watch till the end in hope that I could justify the rental money, unfortunately I lost out.

Julian Moore plays a mother who loses her 4 your old son in a car hijacking and the rest of the film deals with her and Samuel L Jackson searching for him in a ghetto with race rioting going on around them.

This film frustrated me. The actors didn't have a good rapport and often the story was incoherent. Julian Moore, who I'll admit is already one of my least favorite actresses,manages to look haggard and flaky but her acting is grinding and really annoying.

Save yourself an hour and a half of your life and bi-pass this really really bad film
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empty promises
indiejeannie-111 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I went into the preview screening for this movie with some anticipation -- especially after seeing the promising trailer and noting that Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson and Edie Falco were in it. Unfortunately, without a doubt, this movie is simply one of the worst I've ever seen. The script is inconsistent: Is it a thriller? a ghost story? a socioeconomic statement? a pseudo-psychological MOW? The actors appear to be characters from different movies who can't communicate with each other here; it's almost as if they are phoning in from different dimensions. Moore's performance feels overblown and even incoherent at times -- against a surprisingly flat Jackson. The movie is obvious and self-indulgent in the guise of making an "important" political statement; it feels forced and trite -- and it ends with a "twist" that is wholly predictable from the start. In the rare occasions in which the message is clear, the subject matter feels dated; we've heard all this before . . . and in much more entertaining and insightful ways. The movie opens with some dramatic promise, but it quickly winds down -- becoming more stale and boring as the minutes tick by. Don't hold yourself hostage in a theater seat for this one; if you're curious, wait until the DVD release -- but you most likely will not see it through to the end.
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Peace_Monger29 September 2008
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW That was horrific, one of the worst movies I've ever seen, Moore is trying but her performance is laughable, Jackson can't even save this film about a missing child, you will know the ending in the first 10 minutes, the premise is idiotic and the execution even worse, one of the worst performance by a leading lady EVER, I like Moore in other films( big lebowski, Boogie Nights, ext) but she is terrible, I don't know if she is supposed to be mentally challenge or what but she can't or act, the police station scene was one of the worst exchanges by two top notch actors ever, the twist was strait as an arrow, very very very bad 1/10
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The missing child
jotix10014 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The allure of seeing Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore in the same film was what made us watch this uneven movie the other night. We knew the picture didn't fare well with the critics and the public when it made its debut early in the year, yet, with a director like Joe Roth and a screen play by the author of the novel in which it's based, Richard Price, we wondered, how could it be that bad?

The film capitalizes on the tensions created when Brenda Martin, an assistant teacher at one of the schools in the housing project, reports to have been hijacked on a lonely piece of the road next to the complex. What's worse, her four year old son was riding in the child's seat in the back. The missing boy is the nephew of a white cop from the next time, which appears to be a place where cops don't always play by the rules. Tensions in the projects are exacerbated by the white police unit from the neighboring town when they plant barricades around the complex as they look for the missing boy.

Lorenzo Council, the detective to answers the call about the hijacking senses Brenda is hiding a lot more than she is telling. Lorenzo has a good standing in the predominantly black community, but the tensions that this incident provokes puts this to a test. It doesn't take too long for him, or us, to figure out the mystery.

Julianne Moore, one of the most exciting actresses working in movies these days, shows how vulnerable she was in accepting this role for which she seems to be wrong. Samuel L. Jackson's Lorenzo doesn't fare as bad, although his appearance in the film is not as effective as in some of his best movies. Other notable faces in the cast, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard, William Forsyth, Anthony Mackie, and Aunjanue Ellis.
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This is the most annoying movie I have ever seen in my life.
ties-de-jong27 May 2006
Damn, I really hated this movie. It's just so annoying and frustrating. There are like 30 different characters and I didn't even know what half of them had to do with the movie. It's hard to keep up with the story because all kinds of events occur that just don't make sense. And Moore was just so annoying!! She cries in almost every scene but she never says anything that could be of use to the detective. It's torture! It's just the Chaos and the stress that makes this such a bad movie. I feel sorry for the actors who preform rather good. I mean; I have seen some bad movies in my time but this more than just a bad movie. I couldn't think of a single scene that was worth watching. The stroy is weak and it pretends to be some kind of deep, smart and intriguing thriller but it's really quite dumb and shallow. I really don't understand what the director could have thought when shooting this film. It even gets so superficial at the end that I thought this movie was maybe meant to be funny. I hope I will never have to watch a film by Joe Roth again.
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Overblown drama/thriller that goes nowhere
leglevy6 February 2006
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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Great trailer, shame about the movie
karinaroyale30 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw a preview screening of this and was very disappointed. What could have been an insightful journey through a flash point of racial/class hatred turns into an excuse for some major stars to phone in performances - Moore is calling from a different movie altogether. There is no dynamic to the story - Moore behaves like a whacked out crack Mom from the get go - she and Jackson flail through a series of illogical moves till they are stuck in a room together spouting interminable, turgid speeches without much reference to a plot. There's nothing realistic about the sequence of events, Jackson's character appears to be a one man police force who embarks on a missing child case without the help of forensics or psychiatrics. He blunders around with his main witness and prime suspect, crossing and re-crossing the crime scene without actually investigating it, then asking friends to "keep an eye on her" while he attempts to calm down an understandably disgruntled community. Edie Falco brings moments of grace and coherence as the leader of a group of parents who help find missing kids, and finally (finally!) helps uncover the truth about what has happened to the lost boy. At best, confusing, at worst, offensively superficial. And the score is strident and misplaced.
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Antagonisten9 March 2006
I saw this movie earlier today and i was quite disappointed. Not that i expected any miracles but i though there was more to be had with this cast.

Julianne Moore is one of my favorite actresses. When given the proper material she can be brilliant, Samuel L. Jackson might not be of her caliber but he is without a doubt a very competent actor. Both these actors are sorely wasted here. Apparently director Joe Roth has produced a large amount of films, and directed very few. Seeing this movie i'm convinced that he should stick to producing. The script is also part of the problem here but lacking direction is a major issue.

The story revolves around a missing child, the actions of the police and the racial tensions that leads to. Or at least that is what we are told the story is about. But when the movie starts the racial tensions-bit is almost completely removed for a long time, returning in the end almost as an afterthought. This movie tries so hard to play the emotional chord that it's almost painful. Painful because it doesn't work that is. What we have left is completely unfit smothering music from James Newton Howard and excruciatingly slow scenes that seem to last forever.

What i wonder is why Julianne Moore seems to be caught in these "sniveling wreck of a woman"-parts nowadays. She has way too much skill for that. Of the cast i thought Edie Falco was the one who managed best, perhaps because her character had a point not to be sentimental. Honestly i found this movie to be almost unbearable. Slow, shallow and wanting to say so many things about so much without having any idea how to do it. The same things have been done so much better so many times before. This movie is simply... unnecessary. Neither touching nor thought-provoking.
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A bad missing child movie with a race card kicker.
rbk102750-16 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a trite story about a Mom who fakes a car-jacking to cover the negligent death of her son. In typical Hollywood fashion it tries to play a race card on top of a missing child story with drastic results. It is not hard to comprehend Hollywood would sink to this (what is worse is they will probably award this film some prize from the never ending and ever growing number of self laudatory awards for their crappy movies) but it is hard to believe that two quality actors would agree to do it. The movie sucked. It was over dramatic, over filmed, slow and boring. Do not spend any money to see this film. In fact I would be wary to see it for money.
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john-southerling14 June 2006
Why do they make a movie where you are not believing anything inside of 5 minutes? Where in America can the cops close an apartment complex to find a car-jacker? I would look on roads and garages but in "freedomland" the carjackers hide stolen cars in the living rooms of their apartments.

Why does the cop spend the whole movie coddling a witness he doesn't believe? Why wont blockbuster give me my money back? 1000 monkeys with 1000 black crayons couldn't create something as confusing and lame as this movie. STAY AWAY PEOPLE!!!! This movie will make you go cross-eyed. I'm sorry sam but you really stunk it up this time.
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what in the world
jjenrek26 February 2006
You know, I tried to like this movie, too, in the beginning. I went to the theater not having any idea what Freedomland was about, it was just something that I saw on the marquee and so my boyfriend and I decided to try it out. Hey, anything with Samuel L. Jackson is good, we both thought. Holy crap! I have never seen such a movie that goes absolutely no where. First of all, I had no idea what was going on when Moore's character began talking to the residents of the housing projects about how much "love" she has to give. There was no indication that she worked at a preschool stuck in the basement of some housing project(?) I want my money back so bad. There were about 4 different things going on and none of them made any sense. And where did the Freedomland crap come in? All of a sudden, they are walking through some abandoned children's shelter. For a movie to really reach the audience, the audience has to care. The director of this movie gave me nothing to care about. UGH! I am just sickened by this movie. Death to all involved.
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Muddled And Lacking In Any Clear Focus
sddavis638 July 2012
There were a lot of potentially good movies in this. The story of a woman who reports her child kidnapped by a carjacker could have been a good movie. The story of the tense relationship between police and the African American community could have made a good movie. The story of the group who search for missing children could have made a good movie. The story of the police detective whose own son is in jail could have made a good movie. Somehow, though, when you force all of those different stories together you don't come out of it with a good movie. Instead, you come out with a muddle that doesn't really seem sure of where it's going and seems to lack any real sense of focus or purpose.

The performances from leads Julianne Moore (as the mother of the missing child) and Samuel L. Jackson (as the police detective) were all right. Neither hurt the movie; neither were outstanding.

In the end, the muddled state of the movie becomes very apparent in the last 20-30 minutes. At that point, it seems as if director Joe Roth is having a real dilemma trying to figure out where to end this story. It seems to go through fits and starts making its way to a conclusion, as if at the end of the muddle, it was suddenly necessary to try to tie up loose ends of story lines that frankly weren't all that riveting to begin with and could really have been dispensed with.

A part of the movie's problem, I suppose, could have been that it just suffers from the inevitable challenge of turning a novel into a movie. I'll confess that I haven't read the novel. Maybe the muddle seems clearer when it's on paper, when you can rehash things more easily, and of course the written word allows for more detailed explanation of plot points. Still, the novel was adapted for the screen by its own author, Richard Price, who isn't a rookie at writing for the screen either. I would have expected him to do a better job of producing a coherent script that was tight enough to work in a 2 hour movie. (3/10)
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