I'm not really sure how to characterize Freedomland. Marketed as a mystery-thriller, it doesn't quite manage to be either. The script is a mess, badly lacking in three rather crucial elements: plot, substance, and character development. This leaves the key cast - Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, and Edie Falco - to basically spin golden characters out of flimsy straw material. The film is also badly lacking in direction and focus; I don't know what director Joe Roth was doing for most of the shoot, but the scatter shot effectiveness of the end result leaves me thinking he took a lot of coffee breaks.

Here's the framework of the film: a white woman (Moore) is found in a hospital emergency room, hands badly cut and bleeding, and claiming to have been carjacked (by the ubiquitous nondescript black man) as she was on her way out of the dangerous Armstrong housing project neighborhood. The cop assigned to preserve and protect Armstrong, Lorenzo Council (Jackson), is well-liked and respected by the project's residents. He is called to the hospital to take a statement from the carjack victim, but quickly two things become clear: the woman, Brenda, is a recovered drug addict who may or may not have been in the projects for an unsavory reason; and she is not telling everything she knows - not even close.  She finally reveals her four-year-old son, Cody, was in the back seat of the car, asleep.

 

categories Reviews, Cinematical