To everything there is a season, even for Hollywood superstars such as Robert De Niro. Having starred in some of the best and most memorable American films of the 20th century, De Niro has remained enthroned in the Hollywood kingdom — but the time when he can walk into any scene and take immediate command has passed. Now it seems that every time you catch him in a movie, he grows more eccentric and cantankerous, the creases on his face falling into crevasses. He’s even got a King Lear sheen to him: As royalty, people respect him. But do they love him? Not likely. He’d be more lovable otherwise.
Still, there’s no denying that at 69, he’s a powerhouse performer who works at the prolific pace of three or four movies a year, though many of these are small roles. “Freelancers” is from the crop of 2012, and in the United States it sadly got onto the fast track from postproduction to the DVD pile in the sky. Either De Niro is extremely magnanimous or extremely undiscriminating (or as Roger Ebert once suggested, in financial trouble), because in this past decade, many of his movie picks have been questionable to say the least (“Little Fockers” anyone?). See him loom on screen in “Freelancers,” and the experience is similar to walking into a ramen joint and having the waiter serve foie gras on a silver platter.
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