'Freelance': John Cena Is a Special Forces Vet in Action-Comedy from Director of 'Taken'

John Cena and Alison Brie star in "Freelance," in theaters Oct. 6, 2023. (Relativity Media)

Civilian life out in the real world can be pretty dull when your past military career was full of action and adventure. It's a feeling nearly everyone who served can relate to in some way; special operators probably feel that way all the time. John Cena plays such a veteran in the new action comedy "Freelance," directed by Pierre Morel ("Taken").

Cena stars as Mason Pettits, a former Special Forces soldier who leaves the Army and takes a "soul-crushing" job as an attorney. When a buddy (Christian Slater, "Mr. Robot") gives him a freelance opportunity to work in his chosen profession once more (and for a big payday), he reluctantly agrees.

Claire Wellington (Alison Brie, "GLOW") is a journalist, forced to resign from her job after it was discovered critical sources in a story she reported were lying in their statements. To restore her career, Wellington goes to the fictional country of Paldonia to interview its unpopular dictator (probably as a freelancer), President Venegas (Juan Pablo Raba, "Six").

Wellington gets to be the first reporter on the ground when someone unhappy with the regime and its dictator stages a coup as she rides in the presidential motorcade. Luckily, Pettits' freelance gig is working as her security. He saves her from the attack on the motorcade, inadvertently rescuing the dictator, too. The three then escape into the jungle.

"I'm with the president of a country in the middle of a coup. This is the scoop of a lifetime," Wellington tells Cena's Pettits. To which he replies, "You gotta be alive to have the scoop of a lifetime."

Once in the jungle, the trio must survive as a rebel force hunts down Venegas, who presumably won't leave Pettits' side, while Pettits tries to keep his charge alive and pocket his $20,000. Think of a funnier version of "Commando," where Arnold Schwarzenegger accidentally started fighting for the dictator of Val Verde instead of shooting him out of a second-floor window with a shotgun.

Pierre Morel not only directed "Taken," but also a number of other action movies. His bona fides include 2010's "From Paris with Love," the 2015 Sean Penn-Idris Elba thriller "The Gunman" and "The Ambush," an Arabic language movie from the United Arab Emirates that became the country's highest-grossing film ever.

"Freelance" was written by "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" writer Jacob Lentz and also features Alice Eve ("Bombshell"), ​​Marton Csokas ("The Equalizer") and Sebastian Eslava ("Narcos"). Catch it in theaters Oct. 6, 2023.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.

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