What if Death Race were cross-pollinated with a Mountain Dew commercial and 30 Minutes Or Less, and then vacuumed free of any of the inherent comedy? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Freerunner, a parkour-themed direct-to-video actioner from director Lawrence Silverstein.
When young free-runner Ryan (Sean Faris) tries to break free from mobster Reese (Tamer Hassen), he ends up with an exploding collar locked around his neck, and — along with his girlfriend Chelsea (Rebecca Da Costa) — has to make it across town in a hour, all for the amusement of the slimy Mr. Frank (Danny Dyer), and a betting organization who enables high-stakes gamblers to place bids on who will live and who will die. Yawning action hijinks ensue. World champion free-runner Ryan Doyle, still-alive Seymour Cassel and model/speaker-of-words Casey Durkin all also appear, but the latter is not nearly in the state of undress for which one might hope.
The idea here is of course nothing particularly new or special, but nothing about the execution “upscales” this slice of slapstick genre junk. The characters are cardboard-thin, the dialogue terrible, and the acting not much better, especially in the secondary and supporting roles. Also, part of the appeal of parkour — and the reason both Luc Besson has had fun with it and it’s been folded into big, mainstream Hollywood productions — is that it’s inherently low-fi, and a kind of antidote to big, overblown, overly slick special effects. By this movie’s logic, though, a 40-foot jump from a bridge onto a moving boat is no big deal, and doesn’t even require a flex of the knees upon landing. By perverting the realities of parkour and its basic premise so much, Freerunner fumbles away any chance at even being a stupid little guilty pleasure. It’s just bad, period.
Housed in a regular Blu-ray case, Freerunner comes to the format presented in 1080p high-definition, in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with a DTS-HD master audio 5.1 audio track and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. If the movie itself is lacking then at least the special bonus features are quantitatively ample, including a behind-the-scenes featurette, outtakes and bloopers, a separate featurette on parkour and free-running, a look at the movie’s fights and stunt work, trailers, and more. No free pair of athletic shoes, though. To purchase the Blu-ray via Amazon, click here. D (Movie) B (Disc)