Freedomland is a bit of a tough nut to crack. While the film is not really good at all due to poor pacing and uncalled for scenes involving police brutality and human ignorance there is something to be said for the characters created. Besides Ron Eldard’s over-the-top idiot cop act there is a lot to be said for virtually every performance in this flick.
The best way I can find to describe this plot is to tell you it would make a great two-hour television pilot as it creates characters and a story that could have season-worthy legs. Unfortunately this film tackles issues such as racial profiling and adultery that just aren’t able to be summed up in two hours… at least not with this plotline.
We are quickly introduced to Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore) as she stumbles into an emergency room in the predominantly black town of Dempsey, New Jersey. Moore plays this part well and hides the character’s secrets with veteran ability. Brenda has just lost her child, claiming a black man stole her car with her four-year-old son sick and asleep in the back seat. This is when Dempsey detective Lorenzo Council (Sam Jackson) is called in to get to work on the case, and once it is revealed that a child is missing things begin to escalate. The primary motivation to that escalation occurs once Brenda’s brother, Danny Martin (Ron Eldard), a cop from the predominantly white neighborhood of Gannon, bursts on the scene.
Now I am not sure how often this happens, or if it ever happens, but the police from Gannon come storming into Dempsey and set up roadblocks and shutdown the entire neighborhood where Brenda’s car and son were reported taken. Yeah, this scene is ridiculous and the black neighbors are actually quite civil, for the most part, when I would think they, or anyone, would be raising some serious hell if the cops came in and shut down an entire neighborhood. It is quite silly.
The rest of the film is dedicated to finding Brenda’s son, a task that continually proves to be more and more difficult until certain stones are turned over.
You will be led to believe there is a major plot twist at the end of this film, but trust me, the less you look the more obvious it will be. But I don’t want you to discount the characters played by Sam Jackson and Julianne Moore. These two play out their parts so well you become more interested in where their lives are going after the film, rather than what went on during the picture. This is why I say it would make a good television series.
The show could follow the detective work of Lorenzo and his partner Boyle played by William Forsythe as they solve crime and battle the race lines between the two towns. If that were to happen though, one character that would need to be written out would be Danny Martin. Ron Eldard wasn’t the problem with Danny, the writing was. Yeah, this is an R-rated movie, but throwing the word “fuck” around like it is candy is not necessary. I have seen movies where “fuck” was probably used more than any other word and the film was great, but in this film it is used far too often in situations where it isn’t need. Ultimately it begins to sound unnatural and forced, which doesn’t really work for a drama of this nature.
Should you see Freedomland? Nah. Should you rent it on DVD? Probably not. It is like I said in the beginning, the characters are good, but the story is a waste of time.