If you've never heard of 'Freerunner,' there's a reason for it - it's an uber-low budget direct-to-Blu-ray action movie with a bland, unoriginal story, terrible acting and laughable dialog. If the parkour stunt work perked your interest, replace watching 'Freerunner' by searching "parkour" on Google Videos.
In the city of Cleveland, there's an underground parkour tournament called "Freerunner" that takes place in the streets and on the rooftops. Via blue-tooth cameras on each player, fans from across the world can watch the game play out live online. Players are told the locations of three flags hanging throughout the city. When the gun blows, they race off to capture the flags. Playing dirty is not only expected, but encouraged.
Realizing the potential of the large following, the game's creator has turned Freerunner into a money-making forum by opening it up for gambling.
'Freerunner' stars Sean Faris ('Never Back Down') as one of the Freerunners who wants to escape the city and game with his Brazilian girlfriend and vulgar bed-ridden grandfather. To get the money necessary for their escape, he bets his life savings on himself for one last round of Freerunner - but he picked the wrong round to end on.
The owner of Freerunner has sold the game over to a wealthy and powerful businessman who kidnaps all the Freerunners, straps bombs to their necks and makes them compete while stereotypical tycoons from all over the globe bet millions on this game of life and death. Instead of collecting flags, the freerunners must scan their barcoded neck bombs at checkpoints. The last player to arrive at each checkpoint must scan his barcode no more than three seconds after the player before him. If not, his head will explode. If a player goes out-of-bounds, he has five minutes to get back in-bounds. If not, his head will explode. The first player to scan at the last checkpoint is safe, but everyone else isn't. Anyone who doesn't win the game - you guessed it - will also have his head blown off.
Imagine 'Gamer' with parkour, no-name actors, terrible effects, an even worse script and low production value. Cliches and stereotypes run rampant here. Chewing up scenery in a negative way are the high-rolling gamblers. There's the greasy mobster, the tough as nails Yakuza, the angry Russian, the British playboy in the Bahamas, the evil German and the loud and obnoxious Texas oil tycoon. As if the movie wasn't bad enough on its own, the interjections from these characters single-handedly kill 'Freerunner.' The other actors are pretty bad, but not as bad as these caricatures. Sean Faris' Tom Cruise impression is a thousand times better than what these six contribute.
This is the perfect movie for any adrenaline junkie with Attention Deficit Disorder. Split screen is used frequently and hyper-editing rarely offers shots longer than two seconds. This stylistic decision ruins the single thing 'Freerunner' has going for it - the mind-blowing wire-less stunts of its parkour team. Who in their right mind would consider cutting away in the middle of these physically astounding stunts? Anyone without A.D.D. will view this as nothing more than a SyFy original film with F-words and random nudity produced by someone of the MTV generation.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Freerunner' premieres on Blu-ray with a BD-50 in a standard blue keepcase. Upon inserting the disc, a skippable pre-menu FBI warning, a vanity reel for Image Entertainment and a commentary disclaimer play.
Despite being a new title, 'Freerunner' looks worse than most new catalog titles. Presented in 2.35:1, it's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoding shows off the grime left on the dirty print prior to its transfer. 'Freerunner' features a high amount of grain and noise from the get-go.
The picture is rarely sharp. Pores, follicles and individual strands of hair are never visible. The movie only loses more of its definition through its shaky, unfocused and over-exposed Tony Scott-esque cinematography.
Fleshtones and black never seem quite right, perhaps due to the filmmaker's decision to make 'Freerunner' look aesthetically just like 'Minority Report.' At times, 'Freerunner' almost looks black & white, but he nighttime and dark shots are always washed out. Should-be blacks appear gray.
Edge enhancement and aliasing are absent, but artifacting is obviously evident one time on a character's face in an extreme close-up.
Only one audio option is offered for 'Freerunner:' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. While this track is decent, it rarely lives up to the standard we expect from lossless audio.
Rear channels are only noticeable during action sequences or when music from within the film is present - like in a rave scene. The audio plays mostly through the front speakers.
Spoken dialog plays flat through the center and front speakers. It's painfully obvious when a bit of dialog was re-recorded and dubbed in post-production because it plays even more flat than the rest. This usually occurs with our lead actress. Her thick Brazilian accent most likely got in the way while filming, so dubbing for enhanced enunciation would have benefited - only it's a lot more flat than the rest of the dialog.
Had the 5.1 mix on 'Freerunner' been released ten years ago, it would have been remarkable. But hearing it now, it's a small step above mediocre.
This is easily the worst 106 minutes of special features I've ever sat through. Nothing is organized, each feature is full of footage already shown in the other features and it is utterly pointless - more like a memorabilia reel for the crew than a "special feature."
The only thing 'Freerunner' has going for it is the parkour footage. For a movie that opens with a "don't try this at home" disclaimer, one would expect it to be filled with insane stunts that inspire average folks to give them a shot - but due to bad editing decisions, few stunt shots are actually awe-inspiring. With both the video and audio quality lacking the stuff that makes HD worthwhile, I can't recommend 'Freerunner.'