Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 35
  2. Negative: 9 out of 35
Watch On
  1. The film is, above all, a moving portrait of hurting souls, brought to life in compelling performances.
  2. At the finish, the filmmakers give us at least three different endings, probably because they have no idea what Freedomland is saying, probably because it's not saying much of anything. But a film with this many virtues can't be written off as just another average entry.
  3. The film doesn't lose its way emotionally; it's full of great monologues about loss and responsibility.
  4. 75
    Strong acting is one of the film's hallmarks. It has been a while since Samuel L. Jackson has given a performance with this much intensity.
  5. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Its focus--the children--are not even onscreen very much. But their ghosts are everywhere, and the pain of the film is primal.
  6. Moore doesn't just act. She goes on the attack, embracing the kind of lower-rung-of-the-middle-class role that actresses from Jodie Foster to Meryl Streep have long savored. Her performance is an achievement of sorts, yet, like the movie itself, it's also strenuous and joyless.
  7. If Freedomland reminds you of Spike Lee's "Clockers," that's not by accident. Like that film, it's adapted by Richard Price from his novel and is set in the neighboring Northern New Jersey communities of Dempsy, predominantly poor and African-American, and the largely white blue-collar suburb of Gannon.
  8. Like most Price movies, it's challenging, engaging and free of the usual thriller cliches.
  9. 63
    Hugely ambitious and driven by Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson and Edie Falco's fine, intense performances, Richard Price's adaptation of his own sprawling novel about a racially charged kidnapping that turns a volatile New Jersey town into a powder keg tries to tell too many stories in too little time.
  10. Moore is as gutsy an actress as there is today, and I'm not sure I've seen a star as dressed down for a psychological unpeeling since Jessica Lange in "Frances," in 1982, or farther back, Olivia de Havilland in 1948's "The Snake Pit." It's strong stuff.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    First-rate actors bail out second-rate directors all the time, and Freedomland serves as the latest example.
  12. Price has written a screenplay that may be complex and ambitious to a fault.
  13. 60
    An unexpectedly troubling crime thriller.
  14. 58
    Unfortunately, the waste of artistic possibilities dwarfs the human wreckage - and the human salvage - in Freedomland.
  15. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Despite a few raw moments, pic feels like a Lifetime movie with a marquee cast.
  16. 50
    Only Edie Falco, appearing as a bereft mother leading a citizen's group that searches for missing children, suggests the great film that Freedomland might have been.
  17. Reviewed by: Jessica Letkemann
    Surrounding Council and Moore in this cacophonous, bleak New Jersey are a set of cops, neighbors, and relatives played by actors that the unimaginative Roth yanked directly from various TV gritty crime shows; it's like he thought HBO was his personal casting agent.
  18. 50
    Individual scenes feel authentic, but the story tries to build bridges between loose ends.
  19. 50
    This would have made a fascinating film if Freedomland were one movie. Instead, it turns into several movies, none fully realized. What could have been an unusually smart police procedural becomes a sprawling, overwrought melodrama that itself morphs into a sort of spiritual romance.
  20. 50
    A slight, not entirely engaging mystery with slight overtones about the dangers of racial profiling that, unlike "Clockers," treats its urban-plight theme as a backdrop, instead of its main subject.
  21. 50
    Freedomland, overall, could have been so much better. But Moore, even in a performance as patchy as this one, is something to watch. She's an echo of the movie that might have been.
  22. 40
    Ordinarily it's kind of hard to screw up a Richard Price story, but the writer is his own worst enemy here, with a screenplay so filled with bromides and object lessons from God, you can't tell what he's trying to say.
  23. The problem lies not in the plotting alone. Roth's direction does nothing to bring clarity to the story and its characters, and his blocking of the film's action scenes is downright muddled and vague.
  24. Anyone who has seen the trailers for Freedomland, which don't exactly skimp on maternal angst, already knows this is going to be a sad-mommy story. What we don't know is that it may be a bad-mommy story as well.
  25. 40
    What, a white woman can’t take an innocent drive through the ghetto without arousing suspicion? What’s this world coming to?
  26. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    A prime example of what works in a book not working in a film.
  27. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Steer clear of Freedomland, the movie. Your time would be better spent reading Richard Price's much more compelling 1998 novel.
  28. 38
    An overblown urban crime drama that should be a lot better than it is.
  29. This tale of a white mother's kid gone missing in a black New Jersey neighborhood - and the tensions and news media attention that ensue - is pretty much pure jive.
  30. 25
    Roth takes three powerhouse actors -- Julianne Moore as the mother, Samuel L. Jackson as the cop who interrogates her and Edie Falco as another woman who lost her son -- and reduces their talents to rubble and their characters to screeching cliches.
  31. 25
    With Roth at the helm of a script attributed to Price, there is minimal suspense, audience involvement or coherent social commentary.
  32. Freedomland is the worst kind of bad movie: one that thinks it's important.
  33. Freedomland manages a seemingly impossible feat: It's both turgid AND overwrought, eliciting the shriek that fades into a yawn without anyone ever noticing. It's a wholly dreary piece of work.
  34. An early candidate for worst film of the year is Freedomland, an inept, lethally dull drama.
  35. The production can best be described by several f-words. It is frenetic, frazzled and febrile. It is also feeble -- almost touchingly so, if you think of what bottomless insecurity must have prompted so much bombast.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 23
  2. Negative: 8 out of 23
  1. Jan 6, 2015
    Exploring racism and police misconduct in a mixed neighborhood, Freedomland had ambitious goals and tried to tell it's story without taking aExploring racism and police misconduct in a mixed neighborhood, Freedomland had ambitious goals and tried to tell it's story without taking a position. As the film moves forward, it becomes very clear which way the films writers are leaning, and it defeats the films intended purpose. Julianna Moore plays a woman who claims she was carjacked in the black part of town. Samuel L. Jackson, one of the detectives assigned to the area, goes to investigate, and when he interviews the victim, she drops a bombshell, telling Jackson that her 5 year old son was in the car. We all know that Samuel L. Jackson is a legend and he performed like one in this film, but the problem was Julianne Moore. I get that she's playing a mother who is missing her kid, but she was so whiny and out of it the whole film, that every scene she was in was just painful to watch. Add to that the fact that she's trying to use some southern redneck accent, and she was barely understandable. A white woman claiming her child was kidnapped by a black man is the premise of the film and leads to the police putting down the hammer on the black part of town. It was a story that could have gone in so many terrific directions, but instead it falls flat on it's face, with nonsensical sub-plots, shotty performances, and of course a writer who did anything but tell his story objectively. The investigative part of the film was pretty interesting and Samuel L. Jackson is always great, but overall Freedomland is a cliche, that plays on racial conflict in order to get people to watch it. Full Review »
  2. AlanNutter
    Sep 6, 2007
    I can't understand the negative reaction to this movie. It depicts how one event can have massively far reaching consequences and I can't understand the negative reaction to this movie. It depicts how one event can have massively far reaching consequences and illustrates it well. Julianne Moore was superb in this movie as one critic said, "she doesn't just act she goes on the attack". Recommended. Full Review »
  3. AdamG
    May 17, 2007
    The movie never seemed to go anywhere or accomplish anything; it simply had nothing to prove. Small amounts of activity/action combined with The movie never seemed to go anywhere or accomplish anything; it simply had nothing to prove. Small amounts of activity/action combined with exhaustively long "talks" from Samuel and company along with a boring storyline make this movie intolerable. Full Review »