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Overall Rating

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Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 2.44%
Pretty Bad51.22%
Total Crap: 46.34%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings

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by William Goss

"Black And White And Dull All Over"
1 stars

"Stultifying." That was the very first word that popped into my head and out of my mouth as the end credits began to roll on 'Freedomland,' and for a moment, I was not even sure if it was a real word, let alone the right one. The previous two hours had been such a stupor of tired narrative and appalling acting, among other factors, but thanks to Merriam-Webster, I can now confirm that 'Freedomland' is, in fact, a stultifying experience.

Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore) stumbles into a New Jersey hospital with bloody hands and a distant gaze, and once Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives, she recalls the night’s events: she had been carjacked in a nearby neighborhood and was unable to inform the criminal that her four-year-old son remained in the back seat. The scene of the crime happens to lie between the mostly white Gannon and the mostly black Armstrong Houses, which causes a conflict in jurisdiction, particularly when Gannon police place the projects in lockdown. Lorenzo is himself a respected figure in the Armstrong area, while Brenda’s hothead brother, Danny (Ron Eldard), is an officer on the Gannon force. Racial tensions soon escalate as Lorenzo struggles to find out what exactly Brenda is hiding from him.

For about the first reel, director Joe Roth (of, I kid you not, Christmas With The Kranks and America’s Sweethearts) establishes a suitably chaotic vibe when the crime is an immediate obstacle, appropriately reflecting the resulting turmoil and conflict. However, the atmosphere remains equally unstable when deeper probing by Lorenzo and Karen Collucci (Edie Falco), the leader of a kidnapping victim search group, begins to test the patience of the viewer. Screenwriter Richard Price, adapting his own 1998 novel, has a tendency to indulge in several tedious monologues, allowing for at least one per character and evaporating what little character investment the audience has along the way. That, in addition to an overbearing score by James Newton Howard, makes such a prolonged journey to an unsurprising and unsatisfying conclusion feel that much longer.

Jackson goes through the paces as the gruff cop refusing to give up until he finds the truth, but it is the ever-talented Moore who suffers here, with what is undoubtedly the single worst performance of her career. Her manic monologues and flailing execution is painful to watch, especially knowing that she single-handedly saved 2004’s missing-son thriller, The Forgotten (which happened to be produced by Roth), from a similar fate. Although her career will likely recover, seeing her role makes this bloated thriller that much harder to endure.

The trailers suggest a slight supernatural spin on the story, but even that might have been of greater interest than what actually made it to the screen (and disbelief might have been much easier to suspend). Though a somewhat compelling television movie might have come of this, the filmmakers ignored their sheer deficit of substance and instead became more concerned about gray chatter over gray matter, relegating 'Freedomland' to the level of stubbornly aimless storytelling.

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originally posted: 02/17/06 17:43:31
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User Comments

8/22/18 Action movie fan The amusement park was better 2 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 2 stars
6/10/08 Crappy McCrapster a big steamy pile of poo..... 1 stars
5/26/08 kathryn Where was the car? was it ever located? extremely bitty and very poorly acted . 2 stars
4/17/07 Matt A good concept not terribly well handled, but not nearly as bad as a one star rating. 3 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 Complete and total waste of time........... 1 stars
6/04/06 Monday Morning Everyone involved with this "movie" should eat their guns. Absolutely the worst. 1 stars
5/26/06 Jeff Anderson Phony & badly directed with rare awful performances by S.L.J. & J.M. Racism at it's lowest! 1 stars
3/13/06 djacosta Movie doesn't get anywhere, Music sucks 1 stars
2/18/06 martin Walpole Moore had me writhing--had to cover my ears fo r relief from whiny monologues.Totally BLOWS 1 stars
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  17-Feb-2006 (R)
  DVD: 30-May-2006



Directed by
  Joe Roth

Written by
  Richard Price

  Samuel L. Jackson
  Julianne Moore
  Edie Falco
  Ron Eldard
  William Forsythe
  Anthony Mackie

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