Freedomland Cover Family and race – two topics of note that any person would fight over, right? Well, let’s face it, these two entities are both deep routed in nature, and can hold a personable quality that is associative too - just like a root canal! Oh! Do you know who needs to have a root canal? Director: Joe Roth; and Actors: Samuel Jackson and Julianne Moore. Especially in the year 2006, but only for 113 minutes.


I am afraid to say that three separate scenarios had lead Officer, Lorenzo Council (Samuel L Jackson), into a very intense situation indeed. Firstly, when he is called to the hospital, to hear the tragic tale concerning an abducted child from his mother, Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore). Secondly, when he explains to Brenda’s cop brother, Danny (Ron Eldard), about his nephews disappearance, thus prompting him to storm into ‘the projects’ with his officer in toe, to go in search for his relative. And thirdly, when ‘the projects’ erupt in an emotional fervor, due to this blatant display of police-presence at this lo-cal.


OK, so what does Lorenzo do about this? Well, for a start, he requests that his partner, Boyle (William Forsythe), keep an eye on things down at the projects, whilst he tries to investigate Brenda’s missing child. Unfortunately, though, due to Brenda’s distressed state and aloof demeanor, she is not very accommodating when questioned by Lorenzo.

So what does he do next?  He falters, that’s what. Which goads Danny to hastily pick up a youth from the projects  – Bobby (Anthony Mackie) – thus increasing the already turbulent state of this urbanized ghetto.

Obviously, Lorenzo is very distressed by this emotional turn of events, and so he persuades a volunteer group if they could talk to Brenda, and gage with her on a personal level about her child’s disappearance. Thankfully, they agree to his request. Plus, to make this point more pertinent, they partake in this endeavor whilst searching ‘Freedomland’ – an abandoned site of an old foundlings’ home, and the only place in the area where a small child could wander or hide in.

But does Lorenzo’s ploy work? Errr - yes and no - as it does manage to dwindle Brenda’s resolve just enough, for her to confess to the ‘true’ origins of her child ‘disappearance’. However, what then transpires is intense, emotional, and revealing – as situation are elaborated on – crimes are solved – the project erupts – and a heartbreaking time is had by one and all... one way or another. 

Alright then, so what do we have here with 'Freedomland'? Hmmm? A great cast - a story that involves a child’s abduction - racial unrest - urbanized surroundings – as well as an expansive an intense milieu to place all of this upon.

Still, does any of this make for a good movie? Well, again, difficult to say really? As there were bits that I really liked, and there were bits that I really didn't like. Therefore, what I will now do, is go ‘back to school’ on this review (hey, that rhymed?), and partake in an advantage / disadvantage ploy.

Freedomland Book
ADVANTAGE: (1) The main actors are great, both Sam and Julianne give a stellar performance, and are able in their own way to take command of any scene that they are in – even when it is scene with both of them together. (2) Nigh on all the scenes with emotions involved really spoke to me – especially the scenes with the main protagonists, the volunteer workers, and Sam with his son in prison. (3) For a grungy urbanized film, this is very classy looking piece of work. I found the scene in ‘Freedomland’ the most picturesque scene of all – as it did have a benign and vibrant quality to its tone. (4) I liked Sam Jackson’s hat.

DISADVANTAGE: (1) The story seems to dwindle in places, and lacks a positive momentum to gage the audience during the more maudlin parts of the tale. (3) The supporting actors never seem to have a time to shine – except for Edie Falco’s character, the volunteer worker – as if anything, they mostly appear like placards for the main actors to give exposition to. (3) The pretext of ‘Freedomland’ is fine, I just found that it felt stagnant in places, and certain scenes appeared as a delay for the main thrust of the story. (4) The riots did not have enough grounding to appear relevant – because for the majority of the movie, this just seemed like a sub-plot for the 'kidnapped child' pretext. (5) I would have liked more scenes with Sam and his son in prison. For me, these scenes are like a focal point for Sam’s character, allowing us – the audience – to identify with him more. Also, learn the truth about hair loss protocol when you can, Sam.

Sam in Freedomland

Freedomland Poster
Oppps? There are more disadvantages than there are advantages! 5 to 4. So does that mean that I did not like ‘Freedomland’? No – not at all – its just that I wished that it could have had the same flavour than the book had. Yep – its a filmic noverlisation – but you would not really have known this, by merely watching the film. Still, that is not to say that this is another disadvantage, oh no, rather, I’m just saying that this is difference entity, that’s all.

Overall, this is a good film, as the main thrust of the movie (the kidnapping) is related on a subliminal level to background part of the movie (urban poverty). And for a film to attempt to put this type of message across on the big screen, it has to be good in my book – no matter if I found it slow in places.

So if you are a fan of such films as ‘Cop Land’ or ‘Basic’, or even pariahs for Julianne and Sam – hop to it – as you may think of some advantages that I have missed.


FREEDOMLAND FREEDOMLAND Reviewed by David Andrews on August 03, 2011 Rating: 5
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