I think I was 15 minutes into The Running Man yesterday morning, when I suddenly shouted, “Holy crap, what about Freejack?!?!” I checked my list of 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days (that is still around 65 after the movies I’ve already covered) and this 1992 sci-fi turd that I thoroughly love was nowhere to be found. I actually wanted to stop watching The Running Man to cover Freejack instead, but then I thought, “Stop The Running Man? That’s just stupid.” I should have watched it twice as a punishment for even thinking something so outrageous.
So Freejack is today’s movie of choice, as the very, very, VERY loosely-based film adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s “Immortality, Inc.” starred Emilio Estevez as racecar driver Alex Furlong, and he’s about to take over the game, because he’s young, brash and better than everyone else. Except, a dying billionaire in the future wants his body for a time travel medical process known as “bonejacking,” which was a very funny term to 13-year old me.
Buckle up, because we’re about to go for a ride to the future. All the way to… 2009.
Before we get into the plot of this ridiculous movie, this made me laugh way too hard.
I’m seriously still 13-years old.
Alex Furlong believes that he’s the best racecar driver in the world, and things are just beginning for him, because he’s also about to marry his girlfriend, Julie Redlund (played by Rene Russo, who had a great run of being the hottest woman in Hollywood who always looked 35). Except, 18 years from Alex’s big race, a team of mercenaries was up to something no good, and 1992 movies audiences were like, “Hey, what’s Mick Jagger doing?”
Mick and his friends are running a very super-futuristic mission called “Bonejacking,” which is something rich people in 2009 are going to do to us in order for them to achieve immortality. What happens is they pinpoint the exact moment in the past that someone with a good body is going to die, and they use lasers and sh*t to bring that person to the future so he can be lobotomized and used as some old dude’s new body. Now, technology in 2009 is going to be incredible, according to Freejack. Just check out this incredible computer image:
How is it that the computer images in The Running Man in 1987 were better than Freejack in 1992?
Anyway, what I love about this movie is that instead of explaining stupid things like how did “bonejacking” become a thing or why time travel is only limited to transporting one body instead of sending someone back to personally collect that body, they just get right into it. Mick and his mercenaries successfully grab Alex’s body before he is incinerated in a freak accident on the race track, and Julie is all, “I’m so upset and terrified that I can’t move my arms when I scream!”
In 2009, Alex is on some sort of an operating table in a moving truck, because society broke down a little earlier than expected, and this bonejacking is taking place in a really crappy neighborhood. But the doctors hired for this gig are the best and they successfully bring Alex back to life.
Unfortunately, the transport is then attacked by a bunch of people we know nothing about, and before the doctors can erase Alex’s memory, he escapes through a hole in the truck. Mick sees him and declares, “Get the meat” because Alex isn’t a person anymore, you guys. He’s just a brand new body for some old dude we don’t know anything about, except that it’s Anthony Hopkins because the trailer showed us that.
Alex has no clue where he is, nor does he have any money, but he’s still able to hail a cab and pay the driver with his “antique watch,” as things from 1991 are considerably more valuable in 2009. Alex even asks the cab driver where they are, but before he can explain, the bonejackers find them and Alex jumps from the moving car. Thank God, Alex lands right in front of his old apartment, and his old neighbor still lives there, recognizes him and lets him in, despite the fact that Alex died 18 years ago.
First, the bad news for Alex: Julie doesn’t live in their old place anymore. Or, if she does, she’s an old black couple and she doesn’t remember him. But the good news is that the old black couple bought the place from Julie years ago, and that’s how they all realize that Alex is a freejack, before they shove a shotgun in his face and tell him to get lost. “Ain’t nobody can help you,” the man says, before returning to watching reruns of Friends.
At this point, Alex is lost and confused as all hell, because to him it’s still 1991, and just this morning he was the most promising young racecar driver in the world. Instead, now, he’s basically a homeless guy wearing a really vintage racing suit, but as if the gods were pushing him in the right direction, he looks up and sees the most convenient sign that he’s ever seen.
And in my favorite scene in the movie, Alex thinks, “Hey wait, I was just in 1991, right?” and he pulls out his racing wristband just to make sure he isn’t going crazy.
The next logical step for Alex is to get a good night’s rest in this strange, new future, so he breaks into a church and sleeps right on the steps in front of the important religious stuff.
Amanda Plummer, playing a psychotic, foul-mouthed nun, shows up to wake Alex up with a shotgun and when she thinks that he’s just a “pathetic” scumbag, she’s ready to blow his head off. When he reveals that he’s a freejack, she’s all, “Cool, let me help you by looking up your girlfriend and best friend. Julie is nowhere to be found, but Brad Carter? One search. First name. Bingo. God bless the future.
Brad, who is played by David Johansen from the New York Dolls, is a scumbag agent, so he turns Alex in almost immediately for his big reward, but that turns out about as well as you’d expect, as he gets blown away by a white trash guy just trying to enjoy his plate of slop.
By the way, do you want to know what a strip club looks like in 2009?
Actually, that might be the most accurate thing in this entire movie, because I’m pretty sure that there’s a strip club near me that looks like this.
Somewhat accurate is how the film covers the fact that Julie is now 18 years older, so she should look the part. Throw together a new hairstyle and some fancier clothes and – VOILA! – Rene Russo becomes actual Rene Russo and not the pale, understated version that they were trying to pass off earlier in the film. And about that, how old was she supposed to be? Let’s say they’re 21 in 1991. That’s realistic for a hotshot, young racer. That means she’s 39 when they meet again. I mean, I’m a guy who believes in love and all that nonsense, but I’d have to take a good, long look at the woman to decide if she’s worth me giving away being 21 for a lifetime with a 39-year old.
We finally get to meet Julie’s boss, McCandless, and if it weren’t for Bad Company, this would have truly been Anthony Hopkins’ most shameful role. But if you’re going to play a futuristic billionaire who appears mostly as a hologram and/or video message, then I say f*ck it and go ahead and get that paycheck. Besides, there’s really no danger in agreeing to do a bad movie when you know that Emilio Estevez will be “acting” across from you. It’s like agreeing to a practice drill against Mark Sanchez.
After a motorcycle chase scene to remind us that Alex is a great driver, the freejack finally makes his way into the rich area of New York to track down Julie. Want to know what the rich people will be driving in 2009? Check out these amazing cars:
Man, I can’t wait to own one of those. Sure, I’m bummed that cars aren’t flying yet, but maybe that’s in 2010.
Alex just waltzes right into Julie’s apartment and sneaks up on her, because that’s the smartest move. Honestly, if I had to approach my girlfriend after she’s been assuming that I’ve been dead for 18 years, I’m going to try to make her feel as comfortable as possible, so I’d probably be on the couch playing Vice City on my iPad while watching South Park reruns. She’d walk in and say, “Oh sh*t, it is you!”
Alex doesn’t do any of that, though, because he’s an idiot and expects Julie to simply believe him. So she checks the security system, realizes that he had to have broken in and she pushes the emergency button to notify the police that a wealthy white woman is in trouble. Vacendak and his goons immediately show up, so Alex steals the Bollinger champagne vendor truck – seriously, we’ll be able to buy the good stuff on the street in 2009 – and outruns Vacendak’s army vehicles in a high speed chase. Because… “He’s good. Real good.”
Another thing to look forward to in 2009? Laptop computer car phones!
Gee, I can’t wait to see how that doesn’t end in 5,000 deaths per day.
After Alex jumps from a bridge to escape Vacendak – oh, I should point out that in 2009, cars will explode just by touching each other – he swims up to a homeless camp where Frankie Faison lives. By this point, Alex takes out his gun and openly contemplates suicide, but then Frankie tells him some riddle about an eagle, and Alex is all, “You’re right!” and sets up shop in the camp so he can start his new life as a vagabond freejack wanted for murder.
Julie somehow knows that Alex would be in the homeless camp, so she visits with her Grand Bush bodyguard at night, because that’s safe, and she’s able to find him and apologize for almost getting him turned into a vegetable for some old man. They go to a night club to meet up with her other boyfriend, who gives them a place to stay, but only after a wasted Alex goes on TV and calls out Vacendakto come and get him. In 2009, alcoholic beverages are going to be really strong and hallucinogenic, and people will walk around nightclubs wearing no clothes.
Naturally, back at her other boyfriend’s place, Julie has sex with Alex, because how often does a 39-year old woman get to saddle up with her 21-year old man meat? Once they’re done, Julie and Grand Bush drive Alex to a warehouse area, where a boat is waiting for him. She’s wealthy and important now, so she’s not going with him, but he’s free to get on the boat and leave her alone forever. Unfortunately…
Someone blew up Alex’s boat. But who? This is so strange, because Vacendak only wants Alex stunned so he can take him in for the $15 million reward (that’s a huge amount of money in 2009), but other people are actively trying to kill Alex. I wonder who it could be…
Oh snap, it’s Mike from Breaking Bad or Ben Wyatt’s dad on Parks and Rec, depending on which way you want to look at it, and he’s Michelette, otherwise known as McCandless’ righthand man. For some reason, he’s ordering some homeless people with AK47s to murder Alex. No clue why he’d do that.
Alex and Julie agree to go straight to Michelette so he can fill them in on what’s going on with McCandless, who conveniently seems to be traveling all the time lately. But when they show up in Michelette’s office, he reveals that McCandless is a vegetable with his mind currently surviving on the Spiritual Switchboard, but he only has an hour left. If Alex doesn’t allow McCandless to take over his body, the company goes to Michelette. Therefore, Michelette fires Julie and tells Alex to be on his way. No harm, no foul.
Fortunately, Vacendak and his army show up and gun down all of Michelette’s men, which conveniently causes Alex and Julie to go back up in the elevator, straight to the switchboard where McCandless is waiting for them.
McCandless explains that this whole thing has been one big misunderstanding. He never meant for Alex to show up alive, because when people are bonejacked, they’re supposed to be right on death’s door, so the mental transfer can be made and the body brought back to life. Obviously, Alex wasn’t supposed to wake up and escape, but here we are, talking to a hologram high above New York City.
McCandless is totally sorry for the pain that he caused, as the reason that he picked Alex in the first place was because he’s also in love with Julie. This is the affect that Rene Russo had on men back in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. She was awesome. But he claims that he now sees the error of his ways, so he agrees to sign over his entire company and fortune to Alex and die like nature wanted him to, as long as Alex can pretend that he’s actually McCandless.
Too bad that’s also a trap. Life is full of traps in 2009. That’s the lesson that I’m taking away from this. So Alex is forced to put his hands on the silver balls and accept McCandless’ mind as his own. You know the machine is working because Estevez’s acting is so, so convincing.
Michelette shows up, though, and Julie shoots the powerful mind-switching crystal while everyone is distracted. Was the switch completed? No one knows. But if it wasn’t, the company belongs to Michelette, even though Vacendak has all the guns and everyone knows that he purposely interfered in McCandless’ plans. I’m just saying, if they wanted to, they could probably have Michelette arrested. Instead, they gun him down, because the switch was completed and McCandless was able to verify his personal ID number.
But wait a sec, McCandless doesn’t know how to drive his own car! OMG, it’s Alex and they not only have all of McCandless’ money and true love, but also a new BFF in Vacendak. Meanwhile, the whole point that we don’t get to cheat death is basically bullsh*t, because Alex, in fact, cheated death. What a truly happy ending.
Final Grade: A thoroughly enjoyable F-minus, complete with a soundtrack featuring Scorpions.