Freestyle (2023)

Freestyle (2023)

An aspiring rap star gets into some risky business in this fast-paced but flimsy Polish crime thriller



Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama
Filip Lipiecki, Maciej Musiałowski, Michał Sikorski
88 min


It has sound and style going for it, but if you’re looking for something deeper to sink your teeth into, this shallow crime thriller might not be for you.

What it's about

In order to pay his debts, aspiring rapper Diego (Maciej Musialowski) sets up a dangerous drug deal that puts his career, friends, and life at risk.

The take

Operating in a similar style and speed as the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time and Uncut Gems, Freestyle gives us a peek into the seedy underbelly of Poland through the eyes of Diego, a smalltime muscian who slides back into his drug dealing ways when he finds himself short on money. On the sensory front, Freestyle is a thrilling experience. Diego charges the film with palpable anxiety, Kraków’s underground community lights it up in dizzying neon, and the local hip-hop scene backs it with exciting new sounds. It’s a technical feat, but stripped of these elements, Freestyle is nothing more than a predictable crime thriller populated with predictable characters, many of whom, by the way, are thrown in at random points in the movie so that it often gets confusing and infuriating to watch. Despite potentially having something to say about the apathy of youth or the glaring discrepancy between social classes, Freestyle seems solely interested in being a slick crime thriller that has its characters run around in circles to save themselves. It looks good and sounds even better, but without anything substantial holding it up, Freestyle fails to relay an authentic sense of relevance and urgency. 

What stands out

I can’t help but feel like Freestyle would be a stronger film if it leaned less on its convoluted drug story and more on Diego’s career as a rapper. He’s pretty good! When Diego takes the stage and freestyles his feelings away, that’s when the film feels most alive. Not during car chases or gun fights or bloodied assaults. The soundtrack, supplied by local hip-hop acts, sound fresh and exciting too. 


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