Sunday, January 21, 2007

Movie Review: Freejack 3 Stars

A vastly underappreciated foray into both the time travel and cyberpunk subgenres, Freejack doesn’t really have anything to say about the human condition, but it certainly has a good time not saying it.

Most science fiction serves as an allegorical warning against current imprudent, unethical or immoral trends. In Freejack, the very wealthy can insure longevity, even immortality, by traveling back in time, “freejacking” the body of a person scant nanoseconds before they die, and swapping spirits. In another film, that could be a very interesting reflection on our obsession with age and beauty. But in this flick, being freejacked doesn’t seem to be as much an ethical issue as it is just a big f*cking hassle.

Back in 1991, Alex Furlong (Emilio Estevez) is a Formula One race car driver who gets freejacked just before he and his Porsche collide with a wall. Furlong’s freejacking goes all higgledy-piggledy and he wakes up in 2009, appropriately freaked out. Just before he’s lobotomized with a laser, an organized gang of futuristic 18th Street Disciples attack the freejack transport caravan and Alex escapes.

And thus starts the movie, an hour-and-a-half-long chase scene, pitting fugitive Alex against pursuer Vacendak (Mick Jagger). Alex tracks down his 20th Century girlfriend Julie (Rene Russo), who hasn’t aged a day in twenty years, and convinces her through the same circular logic by which time travel is possible that he really is her boyfriend from the past. She enlists the help of her boss McCandless (Anthony Hopkins), the head of a futuristic megacorps, but not before lots more chasing betwixt Alex and Vacendak.

It would be sillier than it sounds if Freejack didn’t take itself so seriously and give so much attention to detail, especially in the production design. Not that Freejack thinks it has a point or anything. It’s just very sincere about wanting to be a science fiction flick.

Anthony Hopkins literally phoned in his performance for this role. Most of his scenes take place via video teleconferencing. He gave up about a half day to shoot the only scene in which he is actually playing opposite actors, and then it’s only Emilio Estevez. Although he’s likeable as sherbet, Estevez has just doesn’t have the chops. And, incidentally, I always thought the Rolling Stones were part of the British Invasion, but that certainly isn’t English Jagger is mumbling.

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