FREERUNNER

3 out of 10

Release Date: 21st May 2012 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Lawrence Silversten

Cast: Sean Faris, Rebecca De Costa, Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Casey Durkin with Ryan Doyle and Seymour Cassell

Writer: Matthew Chadwick

Trailer: FREERUNNER

Freerunner

The newest Danny Dyer (BASEMENT) and Tamer Hassan (JACK FALLS) film has arrived for appraisal at Britpic. This is always a cause of excitement between me and Joe Pesci II.  I am a massive fan of Nick Love‘s The Business and I keep my fingers crossed that this dynamic duo will return with a diamond.  Moss had already grown between said digits when Dead Man Running showed up, but that was ages ago and now the moss is back.  My fingers remain crossed because Freerunner is hobbled from the start.  Dyer has been cast as the big bad and is largely off-screen for the first half of the movie. Tamer Hassan is further down the criminal pecking order as the hustling leader of a betting ring that sees the locals place bets on a crew of freerunners.  Freerunners are essentially athletes that can run acrobatically and jump across massive distances without the aid of wires, nets or spiked boots. Our lead Ryan (SEAN FARIS – NEVER BACK DOWN) wants to leave the city with his exotic chanteuse girlfriend, Chelsea (REBECCA DE COSTA) for a better life on the coast.  Locked into the game by low pay and fixed odds the stakes are upped when Danny Dyer’s Mr Frank hijacks the last game of the season and puts explosive collars around Ryan and crews’ collective neck.  They have sixty minutes to reach a certain destination or their collars will take their heads. F*ck!

Freerunner is essentially a mix of The Running Man and Battle Royale without either the budget, wit or flair of either.  We’re told that the performers are actually played by some of the world’s best freerunners and that no wire work was used to assist them.  No doubles were employed for any of the characters barring the lead, Sean Faris. Sadly the action has all the excitement of watching one of   those Black Diamond titles that stitch together endless sequences of extreme sport derring-do.  The cinematography doesn’t involve you in events, even the inclusion of POV cameras seem lacklustre. What we needed was some speedy editing and a music score with some OOMPH! The music from what I could tell was a string of Grunge-style Seattle Rock, each song played in it’s entirety montage style. No cuts or rhythm occur to coincide with the weak edits leaving the admittedly breath-taking stunts to flounder.  I felt like a lot of effort on the part of the performers was wasted due to the lack of pace and the editing.  The plot was very predictable but that’s not always paramount in this type of film. What is primo, is the need to thrill and keep the viewer on the edge of the seat. Sadly, Freerunners was a very flat experience.

It is livened up by a ripe performance by Danny Dyer as the high powered bookie.  He fails to be scary or even vaguely threatening. He just comes across as a bit of a ‘silly billy’ with just about all of the films worst yet colourful lines tumbling out of his mouth “Jacques spent 15 years in a Dojo in Japan learning that grip and he’ll never tire of it.”  Pity poor Jacques the henchman who gets to dress like Nick Fury from The Avengers and then gets pushed over and killed without getting to show off his legendary skills.  Tamer Hassan is much “less bad”, we even get to see him dance like a robot at one point. But the story pretty much runs out of things for him to do as soon as his best bud, Dyer shows up to liven the film up (in the wrong way).

Freerunner could have gotten away with being a distinctly average action film if it weren’t for the really pongy Danny Dyer performance and the wasted and badly edited parkour scenes. I have to say that the highlights are topped by  said Tamer Hassan boogie and a character burping down a telephone.  Seymour Cassell (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS) turns up in a baffling supporting role as Ryan’s bed-bound grandfather, who trades in perverted stories and is there to add some shade.  Presumably, he took the role because he was able to lie on his back throughout. It’s not the worst ‘Danny Dyer Film’ by a long chalk but then this isn’t really praise is it….?

3 out of 10: It gets an extra point for the brave stunt work.  Otherwise this is another reason to swerve Danny Dyer films like the plague. Mind you, he does die at end and I struggle to remember the last time he did that? The Trench? Goodbye Charlie Bright??  Crap SFX though, which also go so far as to prove that all the parkour was real. Shame Msrs Faris, Dyer and Hassan never had a stuntman to do their difficult bits…. The acting.

Review by Joe “so fast he leaves the house after Superman in the morning” Pesci II aka Matt Usher – see below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “FREERUNNER

  1. FREERUNNER –
    review by Joe “so tough he leaves skids in a Ninja’s underpants” Pesci II

    FREERUNNER is on this site under false pretences! But what false pretences! Who would have thought that likely lads Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer would get teamed up in an American film?! Filmed in Cleveland (Ohio not Teeside)! It’s good to see the boys get out and about and spread their wings. Alas they fall flat on their faces (literally in one case). But what in blue blazes are they up to on the other side of the pond?

    Playing second and third fiddle to someone called Sean Faris, that’s what. He’s a nice enough lad who engages in the sport of ‘Freerunning’ which may be best translated as ‘running and jumping’. Basically, this involves a number of young men racing around town chasing after flags, watched on the internet, which seems to be a new invention in this film’s world. Needless to say there is a lot money at stake, though not for the freerunners themselves. The winner is the boy who collects all the flags ‘by any means necessary’ as race organiser Tamer Hassan advises.

    Faris plays the game fair and square, but his arch-rival Finch (another British actor judging by the accent he displays in his two lines of dialogue) does not, and wins the penultimate race of the season. Meanwhile Faris just wants to run off to sea with his singing girlfriend (Rebecca da Costa playing the kind of useless girlfriend who I thought had been outlawed in movies by 1988) and his granddad (Seymour Cassell lying down in hospital with an unspecified illness and telling his grandson rude stories). (I think he wants to take ‘Gramps’ with him because the latter actually knows how to drive a boat.) Nasty Hassan has banned the runners from betting on themselves, so Faris finds a clever way of betting on himself anyway, which no other freerunner has ever thought of (he gives his money to his girlfriend’s brother – genius).

    All is set fair for the big race, the last race of the season, the make-or-break moment of Faris’s short yet hard life so far (we know it’s a hard life because he works as a hospital cleaner). But who is this mysterious large black man with an eyepatch? Could he be a villain with villainous intent?

    Yes.

    This is a film with dodgy attitudes. The British are all evil, as is the only significant black character, who is also the only disabled character. (And he’s called Jacques so the film is probably anti-French as well. But that’s all right.)

    So the big race is on and we’re only about half an hour into the film. What’s going to happen next? The race is almost over, when KERPLUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS. Please stop reading NOW if you want the surprise to remain secret. Actually it says what happens next on the back of the DVD (Mind you Tamer and Danny are wielding massive machine guns on the cover which fail to make it into the film…). The freerunners are kidnapped and forced into a death race against their will! The bad guys (BASEMENT star Dyer and evil disabled black frog Jacques) have attached deadly exploding collars to our young athletes and have completely changed the rules. Now they have to do exactly what they were doing anyway but with the added stress of stopping their heads exploding, and understanding some rather arcane rules: they have to get their collars scanned every few minutes in order to stop exploding, but sometimes they have to get scanned within five seconds of everyone else, but sometimes that’s not enough; it’s almost as if they’re making it up as they go along. Maybe they should introduce a similar system in supermarkets to liven the day up?

    Needless to say the reason for this is money. Evil Danny Dyer has organised the race for a consortium of evil billionaires, merrily betting on who will blow up first. So it’s basically a juvenile version of THE TOURNAMENT.

    One of the film’s many problems is that it doesn’t bother establishing the characters of many of the freerunners. So when they start exploding at regular intervals during the film’s final hour it’s difficult to really care. When one of them blew up I wondered which one he was. Another of the film’s problems is that the races aren’t filmed particularly excitingly. When you consider that they’re leaping off tall buildings and over cars and all the rest of it, you would expect more than a nice montage. There is never any sense of danger or carefree daredevilry. It’s almost as if it’s all been filmed as a demonstration of how to do it all properly.

    Faris and Da Costa are exceptionally bland, and you won’t notice any of the other runners. Cassell has fun in bed. (That came out wrong.) To say the acting honours go to Dyer and Hassan is not a compliment. Dyer is doing that over-enunciating thing he does where he puts emphasis on every single word he utters, thus foregrounding his trouble with the letter R, especially in lines where he has to tell the fweewunners to wun to the wadio tower on the bwidge. So Dyer is great fun as the villain of the piece, and gets a lot more to do than Hassan who disappears in the second half of the film (apart from displaying unexpected gravity defying properties and an industrial strength tie).

    Favourite bit: the oriental security guy. (Yes the film has a dim view of the far-east as well.)

    If you’re about eleven or twelve this is a great film. There’s lots of running about and people jumping and heads exploding and gratuitous nudity and you can happily ignore the critique of consumerism which forms the film’s subtext. If you’re older than twelve you can rejoice that films about the evils of capitalism are still being made, even if they do end up suggesting that it’s all the fault of evil British bankers and black one-eyed Frenchmen.

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