Synopsis - Freedom
In the year 2105, the goal of education is to train young people to be producers and consumers in a world that has been privatized and taken over by a corporation – the Freedom Corporation. A teacher explains that before the Privatization Charter of 2068, when people were controlled by democracy, the balance of resources and the power that controlled the resources was all out of whack. In this world, people are productive, content, and free of social problems.
Two friends, Jay (16) and Theo (16), are scheduled to take the SLSA (Standardized Life Skills Assessment) test after lunch. In essence, the test determines your future, whether you will, for example, be a leader, a worker, a computer programmer, or a problem for the corporation. During the test, Jay wears a VR helmet and encounters a high-speed barrage of disconnected images, sounds and conflicting problems, as his reactions are recorded and analyzed by software. Later, Theo refuses to talk with him because Jay is worried and depressed about passing out after the test.
Next day, Jay is transferred to a school for gifted students. At the school he is surprised to see Connie, a girl from his old school who has no special abilities other than a penchant for anarchy and subversion. Jay warns her against having doubtful feelings and distrusting the SLSA. She says that she trusts the SLSA. It’s the people she doesn’t trust. She’s glad to have Jay there because he understands.
School continues. The economy was the global language that united the world under privatization. Rain forests are no longer wasted real estate. The World Economic Council decides what is sustainable. With privatization, crooked elections disappeared because people were given an equal voice – in the new order, people vote every time they spend their money.
Late one afternoon, Jay loses track of time writing software and Connie convinces him to explore downtown with her. He’s worried as usual, but she successfully pushes him to be more curious and risk-taking. She tells him about the projects she’s working on, even though the practice is strictly forbidden. Then, after much prodding, he finally divulges his. She tells him fear is how “they” control people. They end the evening by breaking into a security booth at the local teen gaming hangout and being chased by two security cops. On the Metro train home, they discuss their social dilemma. Jay is all about not questioning the system that appears to work. Connie is all about questioning everything regardless. But even with this apparent lack of compatibility, their relationship blossoms.
Late one night, Connie asks Jay for a code snippet to help her gain access to school test scores. Jay reluctantly agrees, knowing full well he can’t control her. Next day in computer class, Connie is gone. He checks the school internal site and sees that she has never existed. He panics.
Jay uses a computer at the gaming center to play a video she made moments before she was caught accessing information about subversives. When talking to Theo about Connie’s disappearance, he becomes uncomfortable with the conversation and breaks it off. Then, Jay realizes his digital helper – a personalized online shrink – is connected directly to corporate security and smashes his tablet with a heavy book. The next morning, two friendly people, Bill and Gwenn, arrive at his home and escort him to a new, more-advanced school. Again, he panics.
The school grounds are surrounded by multiple layers of tall razor wire fencing. After his intake process, the leader Ms. Fosdick, who is about Connie’s age, informs him that all the people in the school are free to do whatever they want… except leave. They are all prisoners. No one has ever told them why they were brought there, but they have concluded that they are the intelligent, creative ones who have difficulty playing by the rules. The community trades their creative products, like software and video games, for goods from the outside world. Jay’s panic ends when he discovers Connie is a prisoner too.
Their relationship grows and the two flourish in their new environment. Years go by and she becomes pregnant but wants to keep pushing to spread real freedom to the corporate world. Jay prefers that she dial back the passion, preferring a more measured approach. But it’s clear they’re on the same path.
Five years later back in the corporate world, Theo is married with a two-year-old son he’s named after Jay, after his best friend who mysteriously disappeared. One day while browsing in a video game store, he sees one that piques his interest, but he’s not sure why.
Later, he plays basketball with a group he organized in secret to discuss a common problem. They each have friends or relatives who disappeared and want to find out why. They have stopped taking the medication mandated by the government to keep people in a continual state of sedation, so they must work to keep their emotions under control.
That night, Theo plays his new game, and remembers why it seems so familiar. It’s one of the games Jay created! Early in the morning, while everyone is sleeping, the game comes to life and logs on to secret Internet sites. Then, it lays waste to the school and Freedom corporate servers in a matter of seconds. Next morning, government police come and take Theo, his wife and Jay into custody. After questioning Theo, a judge sets them free after deciding he doesn’t have enough to hold them on, since their only evidence, the game device, self-destructed. Theo’s group gets together on a tennis court and determines that they must have been discovered and Theo got targeted. The government/corporation is once again using fear and intimidation to scare the group into breaking up.
Next day, when Theo is buying a hotdog on the street, he is abducted by Bill and Gwenn. When Theo awakens, he is at the school. The door opens and Jay enters with Connie and their five-year-old girl. Jay and Theo hug, and Jay tells him, “Nice to see you. Welcome to freedom.”