Freejack (1992) — Race car driver flees into the future

“Box him in and run him down, but be gentle… I want him WITHOUT A SCRATCH.”

Justin’s rating: It is a drag being an eagle!

Justin’s review: Cast your mind back to the year 2009. Barack Obama became the 44th president of the US, Captain Sully landed a plane in the Hudson, iPhone and Twitter were blowing up in popularity, and we were using time travel to pull almost-dead people from the past to become brain transplants in the present.

What, you don’t remember that last one? Golly, it was everywhere, at least according to the movie Freejack. Maybe you were too much into Farmville at the time to notice.

Yes, it’s always strangely hilarious to watch an older movie set in a highly unrealistic future that never came to be. In any case, it’s 1992, and race car driver Alex (Emilio “I tried my bestest to be an action star!” Estevez) is about to become one big red smear all over the pavement. That is, until he’s abruptly yanked from his imminent demise into a dystopian 2009 by a bunch of corporate mercs led by, why not, Mick Jagger. The idea here is to transplant the Anthony Hopkin’s brain into what would otherwise be a past corpse. Certainly nothing unethical here, move along!

But things don’t go so much to plan when Alex wakes up and expresses misgivings about having his skull hollowed out for a rich jerk, and so he flees and becomes [movie title name drop] a “freejack.” Apparently freejacks are illegal and hunted on sight, even though it’s not really their fault that shady businessmen are kidnapping them from the past. And since this CEO only has 36 hours to download his mind from the “spiritual switchboard” into Alex’s body, there’s a pressing need to get him.

Why only Alex and nobody else? The dude just likes the Mighty Ducks, I guess.

Alex, meanwhile, simply wants to keep his brain intact and reconnect with his old flame, Rene Russo. She’s now an exec who’s almost two decades older, but why let that stop true love? He also gets to be our surrogate tour guide into this messed-up world. Sure, it’s not a much of a hoot as Demolition Man, but it’s got its own sleek cars and vidscreens and grubby diners. And Mick Jagger gets to try his hand at jovial menace, failing with every bad one-liner uttered.

Freejack is one of those movies that you watch and are instantly reminded of many other flicks — which isn’t a good sign, by the way. This has DNA from all sorts of places, from The Running Man to Blade Runner to Back to the Future Part II to pretty much anything inspired by Philip K. Dick. My feelings is that if you’re thinking of other movies instead of getting immersed in the one you’re watching, the current film in question is not differentiating — or excelling — enough.

Yet I don’t want to be so quick to dismiss Freejack, as audiences and critics clearly did back in the early ’90s. It’s a messy movie with an abysmal soundtrack, to be sure, but there’s some good money being thrown at the screen, especially in its portrayal of the high and low society of the “future.” The action sequences come fast and all Mick Jaggery, making good use of Alex’s supposed race car driver skills. Russo is also quite the asset for a movie like this, easily out-acting her shorter and more dour love interest.

In the years since 1992 — and 2009, for that matter — Freejack has found some of the fans and recognition that it didn’t get from the start. I don’t know if I consider myself a Freejacker or not, but a rewatch convinced me that I should give it serious thought.

Didja notice?

  • “Morgan Creek Entertainment” was usually a good sign you were in for some solid ’90s entertainment
  • Every scifi movie should start with soulful sax, right? Maybe not.
  • Amazing 3-D graphics!
  • Time doctors like wearing a whole lot of foil
  • “What kind of hospital is this!”
  • Future nuns tote shotguns
  • Throwing guns is always a good idea
  • The hilariously bad screams as people are run over
  • Anthony Hopkins!
  • The brake is the pedal on the left
  • “If you drink any of that, I’m out of a job.”
  • Nothing like giving your pursuer a good Terminator line
  • “I’m a lot older now” says the woman who looks the EXACT SAME as she did two decades ago
  • Slapping a nun can’t be good for your karma — or your junk
  • Yeah go on and keep hitting him where all of his armor is

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