"Freelance" wastes two reliable stars in perfunctory action-comedy

Freelance (2023)

Sometimes, the most random ingredients can make for the most special, oddball gems. Even by throwing together John Cena and Alison Brie into a supposed action-comedy with possible romantic sparks under the direction of “Taken” director Pierre Morel, “Freelance” is not one of those unicorns but more of a misfire. It’s periodically amusing but too overlong, almost interminable, to be worth the effort. By comparison, this really does make the goofy, enjoyable-enough Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum vehicle “The Lost City” look like “Romancing the Stone.”  

Cena is Mason Pettis, an ex-special forces operative who now lives a safer (read: boring) life. He’s a lawyer with an adorable daughter and a wife (Alice Eve, saddled with mostly being a nag). That is until a colleague (Christian Slater!) needs a one-off favor for $20,000, asking Mason to provide private security for desperate-for-the-scoop journalist Claire Wellington (Brie) in the (fictional) South American country of Paldonia. She needs this interview to save her career, but once the charming, sharply dressed President Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba) is nearly assassinated, the three of them realize they’re in the middle of a coup. Even if he doesn’t trust Venegas, Mason is the only one who can get Claire and the president to safety through the jungle.

A suave, endearing Juan Pablo Raba steals the show from John Cena and Alison Brie, who can only do so much with a lame, perfunctory script by first-time screenwriter Jacob Lentz (who’s written for Jimmy Kimmel). Even Raba gets stuck with a dumb running joke pertaining to Mason Pettis’ last name (“petite”), but there’s at least an infectiousness to his delivery. One is almost willing to be charitable because Cena and Brie are such reliably likable actors, but “Freelance” keeps trying one’s patience. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: D +

Relativity Media released "Freelance" (109 min.) in theaters on October 27, 2023.