The Best Movie You Never Saw: Freejack

Revisiting the 1992 cult sci-fi flick Freejack, starring Emilio Estevez, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins and Mick Jagger.

Last Updated on February 8, 2023

Welcome to The Best Movie You NEVER Saw, a column dedicated to examining films that have flown under the radar or gained traction throughout the years, earning them a place as a cult classic or underrated gem that was either before it’s time and/or has aged like a fine wine.

This week we’ll be looking at FREEJACK!

Freejack banner

THE STORY: The year is 2009 – the future. The rich no longer die. Rather, their minds are stored on a program called “The Spiritual Switchboard” while “Bonejackers” steal bodies from the past that they can use. Enter race car driver Alex Furlong (Emilio Estevez), who’s stolen from the moment of his fatal accident to be used as a vessel by a mysterious client. But, when he’s awoken during the transfer, Alex escapes into the hellish future world, only to be pursued by the Bonejackers leader, Vacendak (Mick Jagger), with only his former lover, Julie (Rene Russo) willing to help him escape their clutches.

THE PLAYERS: Starring: Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. Music by Trevor Jones. Written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett & Dan Gilroy. Directed by Geoff Murphy.

“They said, would you like to do this feature? We’ve got to know by next week because it starts shooting in three weeks. So I said, OK, I’ll do it. Probably if I had six months to think about it I would have turned it down and said ‘ah it’s not quite the one I want’. – Mick Jagger — Entertainment Tonight Interview

THE HISTORY: Freejack was a tortured production for Morgan Creek, a studio that was then riding high off of the success of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Boasting a solid $30 million budget, it not only had Emilio Estevez, fresh off of Young Guns 2, in the lead, but also Anthony Hopkins in his first post-Silence of the Lambs role, rising star Rene Russo, and best of all, Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger in his first acting performance in years.

Certainly, the studio had high hopes, but initial test screenings went poorly, and the film was largely re-shot, so much that the director Geoff Murphy was tempted to take his name off the finished product. All the reshoots were for nothing, as the film tanked badly at the box office, making only $17 million. Hopkins himself later called the film “terrible”, while in an interview at the time Estevez said Murphy had let them down by focusing too much on the action.

WHY IT’S GREAT: I vividly remember the first time I saw the trailer for Freejack. I was seeing Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with my father in theaters, I was only nine years old, and the trailer for this blew my mind. “Dad, I want to see this!” He promised to take me, but the film was closed before he could make good on his promise. Suffice to say, I saw it on VHS a few months later and loved this futuristic action-adventure. I’d say it was one of the movies I watched the most as a child, so it always surprised me as an adult that the consensus out there seemed to be that this was not a good movie. We even did an “Awfully Good” on it.

freejack Mick Jagger

So, it was with some trepidation that I rewatched the film earlier this week, but to my surprise I still really enjoyed it. For the life of me, I don’t get why people think this is bad. For one thing, it has a cool premise – the rich stealing the bodies of the dead from the past. Granted, there’s something hilarious about the fact that this dank, depressing future world where bodies can be stolen from the past is only 2009, but if you can let that go this is a lot of fun.

Based on a novel called “Immortality, Inc.” by Robert Sheckley, Freejack boasts a myriad of writers, including Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) who met his future wife, Rene Russo, on the set (lucky guy). There are a lot of great character bits here, with an impressive cast of off-kilter actors putting in appearances, from Amanda Plummer as a crotch-kicking nun, to a somewhat younger Jonathan Banks, Frankie Faison of “The Wire” and former New York Dolls frontman David Johansen.

But, what anchors the film are the four leads. Estevez was on a roll back in the early nineties, and I always found him to be an affable leading man in movies like this and Judgement Night (another Best Movie You Never Saw fave). He’s easy to root for, but the ace up Freejack‘s sleeve is Rene Russo, who brings tons of heart to her role as Estevez’s lover, Julie, who’s now had seventeen years to mourn him, but now is suddenly plunged into chaos. She’s terrific, and Anthony Hopkins is charming enough as her boss and romantic rival to Estevez that it’s not beyond reason to think she might prefer ol’ Tony. Of course, the inevitable plot twist is pretty easy to predict, and it wasn’t even hidden in the trailers.

“I wanted him to be an addictive personality. I wanted the character to have an addiction. Most everyone has one. But I didn’t want him to be addicted to cigarettes, or alcohol, or drugs. So I had him addicted to eating pan –Indian leaves wrapped around condiments. Pan gives you a little high.” – L.A Times Interview

And then, of course, there’s Mick Jagger. While certainly rusty as an actor, he still brings a lot of presence to his role as the nominal antagonist, who’s hunting Estevez’s Furlong, and, in his own eyes, isn’t a bad guy at all. Some of his line readings of a bit off, but when Jagger’s on the screen you can’t keep your eyes off of him. Watch Freejack and get a taste of what things would have been like if Jagger decided to give up life as a rock star to become an action hero.

Freejack Emilio estevez Mick Jagger

It’s all tied together by a good score by Trevor Jones, although undoubtedly some seams in the film are present as a result of the re-shooting, such as John Shea’s character getting a big build-up but then amounting to nothing, while Grand L. Bush’s bodyguard, Boone, carries around a badass sword but barely gets to use it. I feel like at some point his role must have been bigger

Buy the Movie Watch the Movie

PARTING SHOT: While Freejack certainly isn’t a perfect film, to me it’s still one of the better sci-fi action movies of its era, and a movie that I think holds up relatively well all these years later. Check it out!

Freejack poster


About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.