You’d think pairing John Cena and Alison Brie into an action comedy would be casting gold, but that is apparently not the case for their new movie Freelance. The film dropped into theaters over the weekend and received a brutal zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Freelance centers on Mason Pettis (Cena), a former special forces operative stuck in a desk job and pining for his old action-filled life. When tarnished journalist Claire Wellington (Brie) needs an escort to interview a dictator to revive her career, Cena jumps at the chance to relive his glory days. While that premise sounds great on paper, the execution left much to be desired as critics can’t believe what they saw on screen.
You can see some of the scathing reviews below:
Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter:
Freelance fails to deliver on every front. Worse, it barely seems to try. Though it’s billed as a comedy, the script (by Jacob Lentz) includes few real jokes — its idea of a hilarious running gag is Venegas repeatedly describing things as “petite” because he’s amused that Mason’s last name is Pettits. Though it purports to be an action movie, it makes no attempt to craft a single memorable set piece. A foot chase moves back and forth across the jungle at moderate speed until even the characters seem bored. A climactic shootout ends not with a bang but with a smash cut to a news report, as if the film itself grew restless and changed the channel.
Ross Bonaime, Collider:
From Pierre Morel, director of Taken, From Paris with Love, and the truly atrocious Peppermint, Freelance continues his trend of bland, unremarkable action films. Freelance looks cheaply made, and while this film puts Cena, Brie, and Raba in a chase for their lives across Paldonia, this always looks as though it was filmed on backlots and green screens. The action is never exciting, the jokes never land, and the pacing is all over the place.
Matt Donato, IGN:
This lifeless action rom-ish-com fails every genre in its multi-hyphenate description. Writer Jacob Lentz’s thoughtless feature debut screenplay is a shambles of contradictory dialogue and forgotten plotlines whose thematic fumbles are fit for an ESPN Not Top 10 reel. At no point does anyone in front of or behind the camera seem to understand the movie they’re making. It’s a mess from start to finish, but not the fun type of disaster where bad turns to worse with entertaining discombobulation.
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com:
“Freelance” is barely a movie. Sure, it’s got a budget ($40 million!), a semblance of a plot, and stars that you’ll recognize, but none of it was developed beyond the bare minimum to get released on VOD and in a few theaters. It is a defiantly lazy work, a project that echoes better films when it’s doing anything. The most impressive thing about Pierre Morel’s film is how it takes two actors as generally likable as John Cena and Alison Brie and makes them such bland avatars for actual people that they fade into the dull background of action-comedy noise this “movie” tries to achieve.
Derek Smith, Slant:
Such awkward, ultimately pointless scenes are par for the course in Freelance, a film that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. By its conclusion, what we’re left with is a cinematic Frankenstein, whose disparate genre elements have been cobbled together without much consideration or fuss. As such, the film ultimately feels as aimless as it does airless—too blasé for its more serious messaging to land and not nearly funny enough to make you forget it.
Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth:
A head-scratching disaster that doesn’t so much as mix genres and tones but rather puzzlingly cycles through them with no apparent reason or thematic purpose, desperately hoping something starts to click. Just when you think you have the film pinned down as an action-comedy romp about a private security agent protecting an ambitious journalist in the jungle of a hostile fictional country amid a coup, it doesn’t just introduce dramatic political elements but full-on becomes a political drama for what feels like forever. Honestly, the entire film feels never-ending, even at only 105 minutes.
Freelance is now playing in theaters.