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Review - Free Fire

By midlandsmovies, Mar 14 2017 12:29PM

Free Fire (2017) Dir. Ben Wheatley

Written by Amy Jump & Ben Wheatley, Free Fire is the new film from the director of Kill List and High-Rise and is a 90 minute comedy-action film that explodes on screen like a machine-gun. The film begins when two gangs of criminals gather in warehouse as Irish Chris (Cillian Murphy) and his pals arrive to purchase weapons from Sharlto Copley’s Vernon and his arms dealer friends.

From choosing the wrong weapons to snarky comments, the two-sides engage in tit-for-tat dialogue during the attempted exchange before it eventually spills over into a full on shoot-out. This simple premise is to the film’s credit as Wheatley infuses his movie with quick dialogue, funny jokes, a cool soundtrack and action galore.

Filmed in the director’s hometown of Brighton rather than the film’s location of Boston, the confined space helps focus attention to the characters and their whereabouts are well established so an audience always knows where each person is. The enclosed room is tonally different from the literary basis of High-Rise but the limitations and themes are similar as characters look to emerge from a metaphorical cell of (somewhat) their own making.

With Free Fire however, Wheatley shows he can easily leapfrog genres at will and this short sharp shot of action is a nice antidote to the heavy themes of his last cinematic turn. Some may find the constant bombardment of pistols and rifles relentless but the witty speeches and funny turns – especially from Copley – are littered throughout the gun battles and fuse dialogue and action to perfection.

Brie Larson is great as Justine who helps to arrange the meeting, keeping up an air of mystery about whose side she is on whilst a bearded Armie Hammer delivers his best role to date as a likeable muscle head. The superb cast is rounded out with Wheatley-regular Michael Smiley whilst Sam Riley and Jack Reynor play the sides’ opposing hot heads who instigate the entire rest of the movie.

Wheatley’s whip pans and fast cuts keep the pace moving quickly whilst the addition of new characters later on helps maintain interest as the injuries mount up. With plenty of blood, the wounds worsen and the damaged individuals resort to crawling around as the casual meeting turns to a fight of life and death.

Free Fire zips along in its basic narrative and the fun of the film is in the humorous script and the entertaining (if broad) characters. Nothing is ever fully explained helping to ensure the viewer is as confused as the participants. Concrete explodes as bleeding injuries stain the walls and the film ultimately distils complex choices down to snake-like clambering around corridors to simply avoid being stabbed.

In the end, cult-filmmaker Wheatley has created a sharp action thrill fest that is dependable by delivering the right amount of “cool” but could be slightly disposable given its basic set up. Yet, with a fantastic cast it aims to be more than a throwaway list of killings. Although it’s a little rough and ready round the edges, the film uses this to its advantages making Free Fire a comical accomplishment that will engage fans of Wheatley’s work but will widen his appeal with something more commercially accessible.


Midlands Movies Mike

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