Freejack (1992), a widely panned cyberpunk film that has aged about as well as any of the Rolling Stones, is a classic demonstration of the perils of setting your futuristic thriller too near into the very near future. In 1991, Alex Furlong (Emilio Estevez) is a cocky, 20-something race-car driver whose petite body is transported – a split second before his would-be death in a spectacularly slow-mo fiery wreck – to 2009, where billionaire Ian McCandless (Anthony Hopkins, appearing for maybe, 5 minutes total, and exclusively as a hologram, so not really in it at all) wants to use Furlong’s body to house his recently departed spirit. I realize this sounds like a bunch of jibberish written by a 13-year-old boy who has been surreptitiously taking swigs from the “grown-up” drinks at a family get-together, but that is sincerely the most clear way to phrase it.
This act – the springing of just-about-to-die humans forward in time for the sole purpose of using them as fleshy vessels for the blackened souls of the filthy rich (much like the anchors on Fox News) – is known as bonejacking (that’s what she said). The human “room to rent” is known as a freejack…Or maybe they’re only called a freejack when they break loose from their captors? Who knows.
Anyhow; Furlong, the freejack, awakens in 2009 in the bowels of a tankish time machine(?) that is under the control of a hammy Mick Jagger, who wisely lets his upper lip handle most of the heavy emoting. Furlong beats a hasty retreat and the cat and mouse chase is on. Confusing nomenclature aside, Freejack never satisfactorily explains any of its “cool” futuristic plot devices; the time travel, virtual reality, spiritual databases – all of these are breezily mentioned as if we are to accept that they transpired in the course of 18 years. This is why you should never set your crappy futuristic adventure in a Dystopia that’s less than 2 decades into the future. This hiccup in judgment is directly connected to a pivotal plot point involving Ian’s feelings for Furlong’s former lover Julie (Rene Russo, a minx of a cougar, who, according to my calculations would be 26 years Furlong’s senior by the time he jumps 18 years into the future and sets out to find her), but this doesn’t make it any easier to buy a 2009 that has no Internet, despite the fact you can store your soul on a laptop the size of a Target.
Oh, and also; the ozone layer in Freejack‘s 2009 is completely shot to hell, which, in addition to rampant drug use and crippling poverty has driven much of the population into the bitter depths of stupidity, insanity and hostile self-interest. So that part was at least pretty spot on.
Since, unlike the creators of Freejack I live not in a vacuum, I’m aware of the many recent foibles of Emilio Estevez’s considerably more famous and feckless brother Charlie Sheen, who, as Rental Rehab reviewer Kelli has previously noted is seemingly impervious to consequence no matter what brand of abusive crazy he brings to the party. (Why this latitude of mercy isn’t bestowed upon the equally vexing Lindsay Lohan is a mystery for the Perez Hiltons of the universe). While watching Freejack, I couldn’t help but wonder what this particular Dystopia would’ve looked like had it starred Charlie Sheen in the role of our speed loving, law shirking, vixen banging hero Furlong. Projections below.
The 9 Ways Freejack Would Have Differed if it had Starred Charlie Sheen Instead of Emilio Estevez:
9. Furlong’s recurring line – Nibble my ear for luck – to lover Julie? Yeah; it wouldn’t have been his ear.
8. “We regret to announce that because Charlie Sheen ‘accidentally’ (wink) shot co-star Rene Russo in the arm, tonight, the role of Julie will be played by that chick who made out with Neve Campbell in the pool in that one movie that we remember nothing else about.”
7. Charlie would’ve demanded that Mick Jagger’s role as bonejacking mercenary Victor Vacendak be given instead to Keith Richards. Everyone knows that Richards has the better drugs.
6. Growing frustrated with his own inability to get through an early pre-death-race scene in which he is supposed to sell potential sponsors on Furlong’s affable clean-cut charm, the estimable Buster Poindexter/David Johansen (playing Furlong’s friend and agent, Brad) goes off script, trading the line “He’s drug free” for an abbreviated version of “Hot Hot Hot.”
5. The scene in which Furlong has trouble finding his way around the crime-, hooker- and drug-infested wasteland of the red district rings inauthentic and is instead traded for a scene wherein a young Martin Sheen encounters and confronts a wild-eyed, bowling-shirt-clad Charlie Sheen who is found sitting in a darkened room whispering into a recording device about the time he had to pay full price for an escort service and an eightball; The horror, the horror.
4. In Freejack‘s original narrative, Furlong’s body is ludicrously more desirable than gold because it has gone unexposed to the drugs and pollutants inflicted upon the average American citizen by the year 2009. The necessary suspension of disbelief proves too much for even the future director of Under Siege 2: Dark Territory and the entire production is scrapped.
3. Owing to certain unavoidable legal implications, the scene where Furlong is given a gun by a nun is omitted. Instead, Furlong is given a bow and a rubber chicken, in loving tribute to Sheen’s star-making role in the dark French drama Hot Shots: Part Deux.
2. Instead of techy cyber tunes, a harmonized “Mennnnnnnnn” is used as the musical segue between one boring action sequence and the next.
Rental Rehab review by Tricia