Picks and Pans Review: Freejack
In the year 2009, New York City is a nightmare urban moonscape where a privileged few live in a world of electronic security, while in the rubble-strewn streets below, homeless derelicts mill about in dazed unemployment and street gangs light the night with automatic-weapons fire. In short, nothing much has changed—except Emilio Estevez, who has been hurled forward through time just prior to his race car exploding in flames in a crash.
The idea is that the ruling corporation of the future has mastered the admittedly delicate art of plucking "free-jacks" (doomed but healthy bodies not yet ravaged by pollutants) from the past, draining their craniums and refilling them with the brains of aging billionaires about to drop the other shoe. It is up to tomorrow's top bounty hunter (Jagger) to track down the prized Estevez.
Adapted from Robert Sheckley's novel Immortality, Inc., Freejack lacks the menacing resonance of even such second-sphere sci-fi thrillers as 1976's Logan's Run and 1982's Blade Runner because of a relentlessly silly script clearly designed to play to the dirty-word prurience of the 10-to-12-year-old crowd. It doesn't help matters that Estevez walks through his role with the same uncertain adolescent swagger that got him a morning's detention in The Breakfast Club.
As the corporate chieftain, Anthony Hopkins keeps his head down, as if hoping that Oscar voters won't notice his presence. The surprise, though, is Jagger, making his first feature film since Performance and Ned Kelly in 1970. Stalking his prey, Jagger curls his simian lips with a cool ferocity that tells the audience that al least he knows it's all a barmy joke, mate. Besides, he has the best line in the film. As Estevez escapes him by diving off a bridge into the East River, Jagger leans over the railing and mutters, "If you drink any of that, I'm out of a job." (R)