Freelance parents guide

Freelance Parent Guide

This is a pretty routine action flick, but it tries to flesh out its characters and come up with a relevant message. Sometimes it succeeds.

Overall C-

Theaters: An ex-special forces operative takes a job working security for a journalist as she interviews a dictator. But when a military coup occurs during the interview, the three of them will have to flee into the jungle to survive.

Release date October 27, 2023

Violence D
Sexual Content C
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Freelance rated R? The MPAA rated Freelance R for violence and language.

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Wounded in the service of his country, Mason Pettits (John Cena) retires from the Special Forces and settles down to practice law. Without the sense of purpose he found in the miliary, Mason flounders and soon finds himself separated from his wife and much loved daughter. Then an old friend makes an offer he can’t refuse…

Sebastian (Christian Slater) owns a company that provides private security (“one stop shop-and-shoot”) and he wants to hire Mason for a specialized mission. Journalist Claire Wellington (Alison Brie), whose career was tarnished by scandal, hopes to restore her reputation by interviewing Juan Arturo Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba), reclusive dictator of the (fictitious) Latin American country of Paldonia. Given the volatility of the region, she needs a bodyguard and Sebastian thinks Mason is the right man for the job – but he doesn’t give him all the facts.

Mason’s hopes of a routine assignment evaporate hours after arrival when Venegas’ motorcade is attacked by rebels. Calling on his military training, Mason saves the day, and soon the unlikely trio are traversing the jungle and running from murderous rebels and foreign mercenaries. In order to survive, they’re going to need Mason’s specialized skills and Venegas’ political instincts – and they just might change Paldonia in the process.

Freelance isn’t going to win any film awards, but director Pierre Morel lucked out in casting Juan Pablo Raba as the brightly beaming, cunning dictator. Raba chews the scenery with gusto, rocks the cheesy autocrat vibe, drips with stereotypical Latin charm, and demonstrates keen political instincts and surprising courage. Venegas is the most interesting part of the film and I spent the runtime trying to figure out who he really is – a ruthless autocrat, a politician guided by expedience, or a patriot trying to save his country by whatever means necessary? The script tries to come up with other plot developments but none are as intriguing as trying to figure out what’s going on in Venegas’ impeccably coifed head.

Aside from Venegas, the rest of the movie is a paint-by-numbers action flick. There are umpteen firefights, with lots of squirting blood and some on-screen deaths. Cars explode, grenades fly, helicopters crash, and people punch, hit, toss, and choke each other. The violence feels repetitive and mindless, but bear in mind that I’m not a fan of shoot-em-ups. I’m also not a fan of profanity, so I didn’t appreciate the seven-plus sexual expletives in the movie. As for sexual content, there is a carefully shot post-shower scene where all three main characters are clearly naked. Venegas’ buttocks are visible and Claire’s breasts can be seen despite her attempt to cover them with her hands. There’s some cringeworthy discussion about genital size which doesn’t produce much in the way of humor. The Restricted rating is merited and you’ll want to keep that in mind if your teens are clamoring to see this one.

In between the shootouts and general bloodshed, Freelance tries to deliver themes of courage, loyalty, and the power of people to change. It also loads up explicit messages about national sovereignty, corporate malfeasance in developing nations, and the quest for economic justice and political freedom. It’s an unusual combination but at least the movie is trying to say something – if anyone can hear it as the bullets whiz past.

Directed by Pierre Morel. Starring Alison Brie, John Cena, Alice Eve. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release October 27, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Freelance

Rating & Content Info

Why is Freelance rated R? Freelance is rated R by the MPAA for violence and language.

Violence:   A child is punched and kicked by another child. Military personnel are sent to “take out” another country’s leader. A helicopter crashes and a man is later seen with scars on his back. There’s a discussion about ways of fighting back against a bully. Cars explode and flip over. A man drives a car over people and deliberately rams his vehicle into other cars, causing death and bloody injuries.  People are pursued and shot at by armed men and a helicopter. A helicopter crashes after the pilot is shot: he is briefly seen with bloody injuries. Men fight and one is strangled on screen. A man repeatedly shoots a corpse. Several people are shot, some in firefights; some in cold blood. A man is told to commit a political assassination. A man is pistol-whipped. People throw Molotov cocktails, starting fires I the street. A man is shot and bleeds to death. A grenade explodes.
Sexual Content: A baby makes a sexual finger gesture as does a schoolgirl in another scene.. There’s a discussion about hitting a bully in the genitals. Women are seen in very small bikinis. A woman and two men all separately exit a shower together – there is rear male buttock nudity and a woman’s hand barely covers part of her breasts. In an attempt to seduce a married man, a woman lifts up her nightshirt to show tattoos on her thigh and ribs.
Profanity:  The script contains seven sexual expletives, five scatological curses, four terms of deity, and a handful of minor profanities and crude anatomical terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink to excess at a party. One woman is so intoxicated that she vomits. An adult drinks alcohol at work and in other settings.

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Freelance Parents' Guide

There is a long and sad history of corporations interfering in the national sovereignty of developing nations. You can learn more at these links:

Wikipedia: United Fruit Company

Justice and Corporate Accountability Project: The “Canada Brand”: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America

The Guardian: Shell accused of fuelling violence in Nigeria by paying rival militant gangs

Global Policy Forum: Oil and Natural Gas in Conflict


Home Video

Related home video titles:

For jungle action movies with a more family-friendly vibe, you can watch The Lost City, Jungle Cruise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, or The Lost City of Z.