Freelance (2023): Is There a Real-Life Inspiration Behind the Movie?

‘Freelance’ is an action comedy film directed by Pierre Morel (‘Taken‘), starring John Cena, Alison Brie, Juan Pablo Raba, and Christian Slater in the lead roles. The movie follows Mason Pettits (Cena), a former Special Forces agent tasked with providing security for journalist Claire Wellington (Brie), as she interviews the president of Paldonia. However, Claire’s life is endangered when a military coup breaks out in the country. Given the movie’s exciting, explosive action sequences and genuinely funny moments amid a tense political conflict, viewers must wonder if the story is based on true events or incidents. In that case, here is everything we know about the inspiration behind ‘Freelance.’

The Inspiration Behind Freelance

No, ‘Freelance’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original screenplay from writer Jacob Lentz, who is mainly known for his late-night talk show writing career. It primarily revolves around Mason Pettits, a retired special forces operator tasked with protecting a journalist, Claire Wellington, on her trip to interview the dictator of a country in the middle of a military coup. The narrative itself is fictional, and most of the movie takes place in the land of Paldonia, which seems to be located in South America. Paldonia is a fictional country, and it does not exist in reality. Therefore, the socio-political climate of Paldonia is also entirely fictional.

While the movie tells a fictional story, the premise may be loosely reflective of real incidents, as there is a history of American journalists finding themselves in dangerous situations while covering events from across the globe. For instance, an American journalist was detained in Mayanamar in 2021 amid a military coup in the country. Therefore, the premise of a journalist and her bodyguard getting stranded in a foreign country while on official business does not seem outside the realm of realistic possibility. However, the film uses this premise as a setup for effective comedy between the contrasting personalities of John Cena (‘Peacemaker‘) and Alison Brie (‘Somebody I Used to Know You‘), who play Mason and Claire, respectively.

Moreover, the setup also lends itself to some large-scale and high-octane action sequences, which require Mason to utilize his experience as a special forces operator. Given the hysterical and complicated interpersonal dynamic formed between the movie’s main characters, ‘Freelance’ resembles classic action movies such as 1994’s ‘True Lies,’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 2010’s ‘Knight and Day’ starring Tom Cruise. However, the film presents some interesting themes and ideas, with its protagonist, Mason, a retired special forces operator who struggles to fit into everyday life after taking up a job as a lawyer.

Mason is forced to take up the job to protect Claire when he desperately needs money. In contrast, Claire is a dedicated journalist who will go to any extent to do her job. Thus, the conflict arises from Mason returning to his former line of work and Claire pursuing her journalistic integrity amidst a politically tense backdrop of a military coup, which equally lends itself to comedy and action, with undertones of emotionally dramatic moments that allow viewers to connect with the characters.

Ultimately, ‘Freelance’ is not based on a true story. It tells a primarily fictional story from Jacob Lentz that is driven by an inventive premise that brings together two opposing personalities from different walks of life. The premise also capitalizes on its lead cast’s strengths in action and comedy by thrusting them into some hilarious and dangerous situations, albeit amidst the backdrop of a fictional country’s political crisis. However, underneath the action and humor, the relatable and grounded backstories of the characters lend some semblance of realism to the otherwise fictional story.

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