For decades, filmmakers have looked ahead to the 21st Century, imagining it as a time of wonder and technological advancement. And here we are, wading balls-deep in the very future they so fervently imagined. The Future Was Then will examine various filmmakers’ visions and predictions of a future that we are now living in, and see how they stack up against reality.
Our first film is Freejack, the 1992 Emilio Estevez time-travel film that takes place in the distant, futuristic world of 2009. Keep in mind, I’ll just be looking objectively at the predictions the filmmakers, not actually reviewing the film itself, though it should be noted that the film in this case completely sucks.
Made in/Set in: 1992/2009
The Future 2009 Was: Fuck-ugly cars, video phones, and devices capable of transporting people into the future so rich old people could steal their bodies.
The Actual 2009 Was: The International Year of Natural Fibres. Hum. Okay. Technology-wise, Windows 7 was released and works okay, I guess.
Plot Summary: Emilio Estevez is a race-car driver in 1991 who is whisked into the future of 2009 moments before he dies in a fiery crash. This process is known as “bonejacking”: stealing the body of someone about to die, transporting it into the future, and letting some old rich guy use it. Emilio manages to escape the clutches of the bonejackers before they can sedate him and goes on the lam, something that apparently happens so often there’s a name for these escapees: “Freejacks.” Emilio jacks freely all over the goddamn place, trying to find his 1991 girlfriend, Rene Russo, who doesn’t appear to have aged one whit in the 18 years since Emilo “died”.
Pursuing Emilio is Mick Jagger, the head bonejacker, who drives a tank and supervises a bunch of inept, go-cart driving thugs. Emilio eventually learns that Rene Russo’s boss, Anthony Hopkins, is the one who ordered Emilio’s body to be brought to the future, because Hopkins is dying and needs a new body. He is also in love with Rene Russo and figures the best way to seduce her is by using the body of her dead boyfriend. That’s not creepy or anything. Hopkins, whose mind has been downloaded into a computer, tries to take over Emilio’s body, but the process is interrupted and Emilio is free to continue his unconvincing relationship with his old (literally) girlfriend.
How well did Freejack predict the future of 2009?
Automatic Doors: Here in the film’s 2009, you can say “door” and your door will open. Wow. I’d like to point out that as far back as the 1950’s, we had automatic doors that would open and you didn’t even have to say “door” to activate them, so that seems like a step back.
There are also automatic lights in Freejack. Walk into a room and the lights go on! They got that right: we have automatic lights in our breakroom at work. Sometimes if I’m sitting in there reading the paper for a while, the lights will turn off and I’ll have to wave my arms around until they turn back on. When this happens, I’ll say something futuristic, like: “Goddamn it, stupid lights.”
Cars: Cars in Freejack seem to come in a few different types: the bonejackers drive red go-carts, the cops drive blue motorcycles controlled by unmarked buttons, and the rich are driven around in giant ugly bubble limousines with a little uncovered pod in the front so the chauffeur gets wet if it rains, just to remind him he’s a lower form of life. The film also features a champagne delivery truck so rich people can have fresh champagne at a moment’s notice. They certainly are rich, those rich.
I haven’t seen any ugly bubble limos driving around in the real future, but the 2010 Ford Transit Connect is an eyesore of futuristic proportions.
Time Travel: We currently cannot transport people from 1992 into 2009, and that goes double for Emilio Estevez, who doesn’t have a single film credit in ’09. In 2010, he had to resort to jacking his own bones: his only credit is a film he wrote and directed himself.
The Spiritual Switchboard: This is the name of the massive computer that Anthony Hopkins’ brain is being kept alive in on the 200th floor of his building (in the future, buildings are SUPERTALL). We still can’t download our brains into computers and I don’t really want to try: my own computer is still convinced that the iPod I plug into it every single day is, in fact, a digital camera. I wouldn’t trust it to know what to do with my brain. It’d probably try to install ringtones in it.
Video Phones: If there’s one thing people in the past thought we’d be using in the future, it was video phones. Thing is, they thought we’d be using it for every call, no matter how trivial, when in reality we mainly use it for attending boring business meetings in another city or for showing our wangs to random strangers on Chat Roulette.
Mick Jagger: Score one for the film! We’ve still got Mick Jagger here in the future, and he’s still pretty darn cool.
Gosh, Things Are Expensive: Mick Jagger states that the cost of transporting a living body 18 years into the future costs $17 million. That really doesn’t sound like enough. For instance, it cost $30 million just to make the shitty film Freejack. (Its domestic gross? $17 million! Weird.)
Sectors: As Emilio is Freejacking here and there, he’s described by those chasing him as entering various “sectors.” Sci-fi futures are always full of sectors, for some reason. I guess city planners are just too busy signing for champagne deliveries to name roads and neighborhoods.
Suicide Assistance: There’s a billboard shown advertising suicide assistance, since the future is so terrible everyone wants to kill themselves, especially limo drivers because they’re so tired of getting rained on (seriously, the limo driver in the movie blows himself up with a grenade). This may be in the film because California voted on it in 1992, the same year Freejack was made, though it didn’t pass: only 46% of the state was in favor of killing themselves. Come on, California! We can do better!
Prediction Score: 2/10
Film Score: 1/10