Targeting the young male demo, UPN is kicking off its Friday night lineup with “Freedom,” a dark futuristic opus exec produced by Joel Silver. If the opener is any indication, this is going to be one hell of an action-packed, tobacco-chewing, muscle-flexing ride. Its supermacho, military-trained characters border on caricatures, but the martial arts sequences should appeal to auds hungry for “Matrix”-style fights featuring characters kickboxing in midair.
Writer-creator Hans Tobeason’s scenario is set in a not-so-distant future, where the U.S. government has been dissolved and the military has declared a state of emergency. In this Big Brother world, an underground resistance movement has formed to restore the country to its former glory. In the opener, viewers meet the four key members of this secret unit and watch as they get in trouble and form their bonds behind the bars of a high-security prison named after William Jefferson Clinton.
Fortunately, the key players of this resistance have a nice chemistry. There’s the strong, silent leader Holt McCallany (Owen Decker), driven by his need to avenge his wife’s murder and find his young son; Londo Pearl (Bodhi Elfman), the wisecracking know-it-all dude who has the hots for Becca Shaw (Scarlett Chorvat), a macha fighter who looks great even when she’s suffering in captivity; and James Barrett (Darius McCrary), a streetwise, buff player with the instincts of a wildcat.
The early prison scenes are only a setup to introduce viewers to the characters, and they have a stale “Oz”-lite feel to them. Once the fantastic foursome enters the world outside, the production escapes the dull penitentiary colors and breathes more freely.
The first hour also introduces viewers to the series’ main villain, the devious Col. Devon, played nicely by James Morrison, an actor whose face will be familiar to die-hard fans of “The X-Files” and “Millennium.”
The dialog belongs to the clunky “Anyone ever tell you that prison gray goes beautifully with your eyes?” school of actioner writing, but “Freedom” earns its medals because of its impressive action sequences. This future may not be bright enough for shades, but, boy, we can certainly look forward to a world where everyone has mastered the art of executing those “Keanu-kewl” airborne kicks beautifully.