January 17: ‘Freejack’ Races to the Future 20 Years Ago

by on October 25th, 2014
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Rolling Stone Mick Jagger graced audiences with one of his rare appearances in a film 20 years ago today. The year was 1992 and the movie was the futuristic thriller “Freejack.” Now that it’s 2012, the movie doesn’t seem very “futuristic” — “Freejack” takes place in the year 2009. This is a rare mistake that has been made by writers and filmmakers over the years: not setting a film far enough in the future.

“Freejack” centers on race car driver Alex Furlong, who’s rescued from a horrific wreck by bounty hunters moments before it happens. He is transported to the future so his body can be sold to a sick wealthy man who will have his mind transferred into it. Furlong escapes and makes his way through the seedy world of crime and violence to locate his now older fiancée.

The movie was loosely based on Hugo- and Nebula-nominated author Robert Sheckley’s 1959 novel “Immortality, Inc.” The two differ greatly; the basic storyline involving a man from the past being transported to a future where anything can be bought for a price and souls can be transferred from one body to another is about all that made it from printed page to silver screen. One of the main themes running through the book is the idea of society’s altered views of the importance of life after science has proved there is an afterlife. The movie tosses this aside and replaces it with a cyberpunk plotline instead.

Geoff Murphy directed “Freejack.” Apparently, Emilio Estevez and Murphy enjoyed working together, as his previous project right before this film was “Young Guns II.” The director also went on to helm more sequels in the sci-fi and action genres, such as “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory” and “Fortress II: Re-Entry.”

Ronald Shusett, Steven Pressfield, and Dan Gilroy wrote the screenplay for “Freejack.” Shusett has a rich history in the sci-fi genre, penning “Alien,” “Total Recall,” “AVP: Alien vs. Predator,” and others. Pressfield went on to write the novel “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which became a hit film. “Freejack” was Gilroy’s first job as a writer. His latest project, “The Bourne Legacy,” is in production now.

The cast of this futuristic thriller is made up of an interesting mix of actors. Emilio Estevez starred as lead character Alex Furlong. Anthony Hopkins played the wealthy man who needs to transfer his mind to Furlong’s healthy body. Jagger portrayed a mercenary trying to capture Furlong. Rene Russo ended up replacing Linda Fiorentino in the role of Furlong’s fiancée.

The film received mostly negative reviews from both critics and audiences when it was released. It failed to recoup its $30 million budget, only bringing in a little over $17 million at the box office. However, it was nominated for three Saturn Awards, including Best Costumes, Best Science Fiction Film, and Best Supporting Actress for Russo. The film still has a cult following built up by the release on video and DVD, as well as consistent airings on television.

For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:

January 14: Audiences Couldn’t Escape ‘The Dunwich Horror’
‘Annotated Sherlock Holmes’ Expert Leslie S. Klinger Talks About Being a Film Consultant
‘A Clockwork Orange’ Hits United States in January 1971

Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.

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