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With a ticking bomb locked to his neck, a young freerunner races against the clock and all types of baddies to get from one end of the city to the other to save himself and his girlfriend.
For more about Freerunner and the Freerunner Blu-ray release, see Freerunner Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 10, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sean Faris, Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Ryan Doyle
Director: Lawrence Silverstein
» See full cast & crew
Freerunner Blu-ray Review
Should Blu-ray collectors run out and pick up this release?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 10, 2011
All bets in, the race is on.
Freerunner is basically the Action movie version of You Got Served: Beat the World, or in a more general sense, the Action movie take on the growing sport of "Parkour," a sport which, basically, challenges skilled athletes to maneuver through complex city environments without stopping, leaping over and across obstacles rather than moving around them. It's one of the fastest-moving sports around, and it's therefore a natural for high-adrenaline film. Tie it in with some manufactured excitement -- say something like, oh, runners forced compete with bombs strapped around their necks, a time limit, and competitors who will do anything to save their own heads and win some prize money -- and voila, a movie is born. Freerunner isn't exactly a good movie to be sure, but it's a serviceably entertaining jolt of energy that's as predictable as the sunrise but just different enough to separate itself from the redundant low-budget Action movie crowd.
Ryan (Sean Faris) is a Freerunner, a top-notch athlete who competes against others in a citywide game of "capture the flag." The object: retrieve three flags by any means necessary. Ryan's good at what he does, but he's not the best. During the last race, however, he feels as if something inside of him "clicked;" he's always been capable physically, but he now feels he's able to run a race mentally, too. He bets his life savings on himself for the race, and promises his girlfriend Chelsea (Rebecca Da Costa) that they'll run away together and start a new life when he wins the game's prize money. Things take a turn for the bizarre, however, just as Ryan's about to win. He and his fellow competitors are gassed and awaken tied up and with bombs strapped to their necks. They're told that they've just become the latest contestants in a sadistic game of life-and-death Freerunning. The winner walks away with a cool one million dollars. The others, well, they're going to lose their minds if they don't win. A runner is killed as a demonstration, and it's off to the races. Ryan's most challenging competitor is Finch (Ryan Doyle), who will do anything to save his life and win the cash. Ryan, on the other hand, finds himself running for his life while also attempting to solve the mystery behind the game and escape with Chelsea before the bombs go off.
Freerunner's first act presents the sport of Parkour as it might be broadcast on some lower-tiered sports station like Versus. It amounts to maybe the most basic sport ever devised -- based solely on human motion -- as if it were a high-tech, big-money venture. The contestants are introduced as might be fighters, with their heights, weights, styles, and records are listed before the race begins. The race is seen from various angles and perspectives, from both cameras mounted through the course and via shaky, low-grade Bluetooth gear mounted on the runners themselves. The film's first act also builds up a couple of characters nicely enough, creates a simple "win the race and we'll go start a new life together" sort of thing for the boy and the girl. It has a few sweet moments between bedridden grandfather and running grandson. It's all fine and dandy, and then the movie goes ridiculously haywire. It turns into something like The Running Man meets The Condemned, introducing a cheap top-secret reality show created by a devious bad guy and funded by a bunch of international billionaires who find some sort of sadistic pleasure in wagering on which runner will win and which will have their heads blown clean off. The premise is decent, if not a bit repetitive even given the whole "Parkour" angle. It's just predictable and not very well executed; the actors who play the "fat cats" are just so downright awful that they sink the movie every time they appear on-screen, going so over-the-top that traditional "over-the-top" looks tame in comparison.
Stylistically, the movie is rock-solid. Freerunner is maybe a little too shaky at first, but the adrenaline kicks in, the main characters become somewhat better developed, and the story unfolds, all helping the movie become more than just a blur. It's very fast-paced, even in the first act, but it does get a bit bogged down in monotony as the main plot progresses. Most of the characters are developed only by giving a name to a face, and there's no emotional connection to them and therefore no real concern when their heads explode, from a purely structural and thematic perspective only, of course. But there's no doubt that the action and style are more polished than the acting; even the three main actors who play Ryan, Chelsea, and Mr. Frank are decidedly average in their efforts, but "average" is good enough in a movie with rather low ambitions and expectations like this. Danny Dyer's Mr. Frank is never all that chilling or sadistic, but the part isn't all that well-written, anyway. Sean Faris channels his best James Franco impersonation in the film's more dramatic stretches, and he acquits himself nicely on the street during the physically demanding action scenes. Rebecca Da Costa turns in what is probably the most balanced performance, playing the high-maintenance girlfriend and, later, victim of circumstance nicely enough. Freerunner is certainly a fair movie; it sets its sights rather low, and therefore elevates itself a notch or two above low grade Action pictures on spunk, style, and a basic know-how alone.
Freerunner Blu-ray, Video Quality
Freerunner trots onto Blu-ray with a very nice looking 1080p Blu-ray transfer. The film was shot on 16mm, which gives it a somewhat rough, grainy, and slightly dull fašade, while maintaining great clarity, wonderful detailing, and a positive film-like texture. Slightly faded as it may appear, colors are still very well balanced. There's a nice mixture of bland gray, white, and black urban jungle elements and brighter clothing and splashes of more vibrant hues. Fine detail is very good, on faces, clothes, and the aforementioned concrete and brick environments that are so prominent throughout. Grain yields a very pleasant film-like texture. Black levels are generally rock-solid with no perceptible crush, but there are a few instances where they look somewhat too bright and gray. Flesh tones retain a good, natural tint throughout. The image is generally free of print damage, but there's an easily-identifiable brown vertical line that appears for a few seconds, preceding a sex scene in chapter five. There's also a couple of brief bouts of aliasing, but the image appears otherwise free of any distracting bugaboos. All told, this is a fine looking transfer from Image Entertainment.
Freerunner Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Freerunner's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is a good one. This is a very high octane, very precise, very endearing and entertaining listen. Excellent clarity and strength are the key elements in the film's opening Rock tune and, indeed, in the picture's music throughout. It's sort of reminiscent of something that might be heard in a Warren Miller video, which comes as no surprise given that the films share a passion for rather extreme sports. The track is satisfying in other areas of interest, too. A lounge singer's performance as heard in chapter four is very good, spacious and inviting, effectively placing the listener at one of the tables. A party/dance sequence in the same chapter is also highly immersive, delivering a hefty low end and quality surround support. The track's action scenes are crisp and well-defined. Explosions and gunshots yield adequate power. General spacing is fine, and the track often does a fair job of creating a general, realistic city ambience. Rounded out by steady and center-focused dialogue, Image Entertainment's lossless track is a winner.
Freerunner Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Freerunner's Blu-ray release comes with a handful of extras, several of them rather lengthy.
Freerunner Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Freerunner isn't going to change the landscape of Action/Sport movie hybrids, but it's a fair enough little movie that works because of its high energy and fun factor. The movie definitely takes a turn for the worse in several stretches in its second and third acts when things go absurdly over-the-top in the whole "private reality TV" element, but the basic run around the city material is done well enough. The performances are unspectacular but generally even, the music is kicking, and the direction and editing are decent enough. Is it worth a watch? On a slow day, why not. Image Entertainment's Blu-ray release of Freerunners features strong 1080p video, an energized lossless soundtrack, and a few extras. Definitely worth a rental.
Freerunner Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Freerunner Blu-ray - July 29, 2011
Image Entertainment will release Freerunner on Blu-ray this October. A thriller highlighting Parkour acrobatics, the film stars Sean Faris (Never Back Down) as a young man forced to freerun throughout Cleveland in order to stop a criminal madman (Danny Dyer, Severance). ...
Freerunner Blu-ray Screenshots
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