Julien Neaves, Editor
Plot: A rookie Formula One racer is transported 18 years into the future moments before his death for the mind of a wealthy person to be transplanted into it.
Background: Last month (January 17 to be exact) cult classic Sci Fi Freejack turned 30. I remembered enjoying this weird film, a loose adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s 1959 Sci Fi novel Immortality, Inc., back in the day and with its 30th anniversary I thought I would give it the old retrospective review treatement. With a time-displaced SPOILER ALERT let’s travel back to this Geoff Murphy’s Sci Fi cyberpunk action flick.
Review: So the plot of this movie is bonkers. Rich people in the future (the far-flung dystopian future of 2009!) having people from the past kidnapped right before their death so they can steal their bodies? Pretty gonzo. But the film itself is a relatively straightforward Sci Fi action run-and-gun. We actually don’t meet any of the people who have gone through the process which could have been both cool and added some depth to the proceedings. As it is, the crazy set-up is just there to move the action along.
But I may be racing along too quickly. Let’s slow down and talk about characters. As the titular “Freejack” Emilio Estevez brings his usual boyish charm and likeability to the time displaced Alex Furlong. His acting is nothing to write home about, though, and he is entirely unconvincing in the scenes when he is boozed up on future alcohol and later, and more importantly, when he contemplates suicide. Sorry Emilio. Loved you in Young Guns and Young Guns II! Renee Russo plays his love interest Julie Redlund and she is solid enough, and her chemistry with Estevez is okay. Russo is actually eight years Estevez’s senior, so you do get that Spring-Winter feel, though little effort is made to age Russo up 18 years other than a different hairdo.
But I think the intended draw of the film would have been seeing Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger as Victor Vacendak, leader of the mercenary “bonejackers” that obtain the Freejacks for the super wealthy. Jagger may be a legendary musician but his acting as villain-turned-ally does not strike the right chord. When he is not scowling he makes these extremely flat jokes, and his line delivery leans towards the robotic. He doesn’t feel threatening and not once do you get invested in the character and distracted from the novelty of Jagger playing him. A major miscasting here. I did like when he delivered the line “Get the meat”, but other than that I was unimpressed. Legendary actor Anthony Hopkins joined Jagger and Estevez as top billing, but he is barely in the movie and only really shows up in the end for the villain reveal, which is pretty obvious to anyone paying a modicum of attention.
Strangely the characters I enjoyed the most were the side ones. Frankie Faison leaves an impact as the wise homeless Eagle Man. Singer David Johansen (who I swear is 90 per cent mouth) is a good time as sleazy, backstabber Brad. But my favourite has to be Amanda Plummer as the nun with a shotgun. Yes, you have the hilarious juxtaposition of a woman of the cloth packing heat and busting nuts but Plummer’s off-kilter portrayal takes the Nun next level.
And speaking of things I enjoyed, I thought the film did a good job of fleshing out this world. The pristine city with its insect-like, futuristic vehicles was visually interesting, and in the crime-ridden slums you felt the grime, hopelessness and danger. Sure the cityscape looked a little Blade Runner but Freejack was not the first to be inspired by the iconic film and definitely wasn’t the last. The visual effects hold up relatively well, though there is a scene in the McCandless building in the final act where it is very clear Estevez and Russo are standing in front of a green screen.
I will also give the film points for its swift pacing. I never felt bored as we went from chase scene to chase scene and I also didn’t feel like I was getting whiplash. And speaking of chases, I thought the champagne van chase was pretty entertaining. There was also enough gunfights to fulfill my action quota, which is very important to me in case you were wondering.
While the film does little with its enticing premise it remains an enjoyable time with plenty of action, wacky set pieces and quirky characters. So yeah, I would recommend popping some popcorn and getting jacked into Freejack again.
Editor Jules’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
So are you a fan of Freejack? And you can check out more classic Sci Fi content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.