Sunday, February 26, 2006

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Freedomland, an overwrought crime thriller, is worth seeing primarily because of a strong performance by Samuel L. Jackson as a detective trying to keep racial tensions from exploding in the aftermath of the alleged kidnapping of a young boy. Portraying detective Lorenzo Council, Jackson holds this wayward movie in check despite an over-the-top turn by Julianne Moore as an hysterical mother who claims her car has been car-jacked by an unknown black man and that her son was in the car.

In movies where a mother claims her son is missing, we usually sympathize with her and not with the detective in charge of the case. But in Freedomland, it is detective Council we care about instead. Why? Partly because the mother comes across as so unlikable. But mostly it stems from the almost impossible job this dedicated detective has before him. Suffering from asthma, he seems to be the only voice of reason as he stands between the residents of a black housing project and the police called in to cordon off that area until the culprit is found and arrested. Although suspecting that the woman is lying, detective Council takes her under his wing, hoping to find out the truth.

Jackson is magnificent here. Showing a full range of intense emotions, he creates a character we want to see more of on the big screen. I think detective Lorenzo Council deserves a sequel.


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