John Cena’s film career needs an intervention. For every guest appearance in movies like Barbie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, you have some alarmingly bad cinematic experiences. To compound the issue, it’s in the leading roles that Cena’s star seems to wane the most.
That’s what ran through my head as the credits rolled during the movie, Freelance. It is a remarkably bland, corny, and cliched action-comedy that is utterly predictable every step of the way. Yes, Cena is likable, even charming, and Allison Brie is adorable and great in her role. The problem here is that this genre has replaced romantic comedies with romantic-action-comedies.
The result is combining both genre’s dull tropes into a film we have seen thousands of times before. It’s as if the studio saw the success of The Lost City and decided to type in “Tropical romantic-action-comedy with cheaper actors” on ChatGPT and hit enter.
Freelance signals that John Cena needs a career intervention
In the movie, John Cena plays Mason Pettits, a former Special Forces soldier in the Army who is floundering now as a lawyer. Mason is having trouble adjusting to the “9 to 5” life despite being a married man and a father. The problem is that his wife (Alice Eve) can feel how unhappy he is at home. After Mason teaches his daughter (Molly McCann) to punch a boy in the throat who tries to kiss her, she asks Mason to move out.
Thankfully, his former boss (Christian Slater) has remarkable timing, asking Mason to take on a simple private security job. For $20,000 (that should be a red flag), he must escort Claire Wellington (Brie), a disgraced journalist trying to restore her reputation. She has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with an exclusive interview with President Juan Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba, one of the movie’s bright spots), the leader of Paldonia, an enemy country in the United States.
That’s where the film becomes mind-numbingly predictable and makes you question if the script by Jacob Lentz was AI-generated. Jacob’s last mission was a tragedy; he lost half of his fellow soldiers. And guess who was responsible for their deaths? Yes, the Paldonia president. Slater’s character tries to sell Cena on the idea. Why on earth would he agree to such a ridiculous idea? And why would he be assigned such a case where Cena could easily take matters into his own hands?
Well, the answer is obvious, and we circle back to that predictability angle on why he was asked. The fact that Cena’s Mason would accept such a proposal is asinine. Now, that would all be forgiven if the film were funny, but it’s not. (They have a “Chicks Dig It” running joke that is eye-rolling, and the blooper reel at the end of this film is laugh-free.) If the film had any heat between the leads, it doesn’t.
Freelance takes no risks to stand out from similar movies
The Lentz script takes zero chances. If anything, they had an opportunity to generate some genuine laughs with Raba’s character, who never entirely pushes the envelope the way it should. This should have been the wild and zany inspiration from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.” Instead, every character, joke, interaction, and choice is recycled from the genre playbook and refuses to push the envelope.
Freelance is more of a storyboard idea than a film that was fleshed out to resemble any human involvement. Cena’s latest now joins the ranks of the Vacation Friends franchise, Hidden Strike, and Playing with Fire as glaring misfires in the star’s filmography. If the waste of Alive Eve wasn’t enough, Freelance is utterly forgettable.
Grade: 1.5/5 stars