Freedom (1982)

Well, at least the theatrical one-sheet doesn’t suck . . .

Ron, who is struggling to find a stable job after being fired from his mechanics gig, cannot afford to buy the Porsche 911 of his wild dreams.

Then his dream cars appears . . . and it’s owned by Annie, an old high school girlfriend. They make a date to catch up, but Ron learned that Annie is using him to make her boyfriend jealous. So he steals her Porsche and takes the cross-country (Australia) trip of his dreams.

But those dreams didn’t include meeting his “Frog” (yes, Smokey and the Bandit is afoot, here) in the form of a single mom, Sally (see, what I mean?), stranded at a roadside station; he falls for her sob story (natch) that she needs to get to Sedan, South Australia, to get her son out of foster care. Kidnapping assumptions, mistaken attempted murder, cars chases and crashes, ensues — while Michael Hutchence of INXS offers music backing with “Speed Kills” to the soundtrack (which was the sole reason I rented the film; I held a portable cassette recorder to the TV speaker to record the song).

Worst VHS photoshopping job of all time. Way to encourage a rental, Mr. Distributor.

Poised for a career as a Down Under-version of Tom Cruise, actually, in an Australian perspective, the next Mel Gibson (there was talk of another Mad Max film with him — Freedom intended to elevate Jon Blake’s career beyond television. Sadly, the film was a critical and commercial bomb in its homeland and failed in its limited, and brief, U.S theatrical run.

Critics cited the film’s failure was its ambition to be “like Terrance Malick’s Badlands” (1973; a similar “lovers on the run” film starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, along with Warren Oates), but concentrated too much on car chases and crashes and not enough character development; thus the film became a Smokey and the Bandit-clone — without the class of the first nor the charm of the latter. (And I have to add: Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in 1987’s License to Drive . . . and going all the way back to 1977’s Grand Theft Auto with Ron Howard.)

Blake’s career was ironically cut short by a tragic car accident on the last day of filming the biggest film of his career, the 1987 WW I war drama, The Lighthorsemen. The feature film directing debut for Scott Hicks, he fared much better with the Academy Award-nominated and winning Shine (1996) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).

Good luck finding this one on U.S. shores: freebie-digital streams are nil. The rare ’80s VHS tapes are out there in the overseas markets from Rigby Entertainment and VidAmerica in the States — if you want to venture across the online marketplace. But for DVDs, at least in the U.S., you’re out of luck. Australians can get their copies via an Umbrella Entertainment 2000-issued DVD. You can purchase those DVDs (know your regions) or watch it as a VOD at Umbrella Entertainment’s website.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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