Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Sharlto Copley, Babou Cesasy
Director Ben Wheatley, best known for High-Rise and Sightseers, is back with a taught shoot out style film set in the late 1970s. I mention the decade as those slick 70s suits provide for some slick padding from the hundreds of bullets that fly across the screen in Free Fire’s 90 minute runtime. The set up up includes Cillian Murphy’s Chris who’s partnered with Brie Larson and Armie Hammer and a few others for a gun trade in an old abandoned warehouse. They meet up with a few Irish gangsters to take on the British adversaries on the other end of the trade agreement including Sharlto Copley and Babou Cesasy. Chris had ordered an M16, but a different assault rifle has been delivered. That’s not the end of the world. It’s Stevo (Riley) and his bitter rivalry with Harry (Reynor) that is the trigger for a massive free for all shoot-out for everyone involved.
That’s the simple premise behind Free Fire. Ben Wheatley has the daring idea of wounding every cast member to the point of making them stuck in the warehouse. It becomes an all-out circus as they hobble around limping to either kill someone else, find a weapon, hide, or crawl to safety. The whole movie takes place in this warehouse with various cinder blocks, stones, and other barriers offering hiding places or allowing bullets to ricochet around the place. The limited setting provides a unique take on this kind of action flick, but also brings out one of it’s weaknesses. I felt Wheatley seemed a bit trapped as to how to keep the movie going long enough to keep the audience’s interest. One way he does is by adding in two rogue watchdogs early on. The other seems to be by giving every character nine lives. No matter how many times anyone is shot or hit, they just keep hanging on unless something drastic happens to them. As I’m sure you could tell, it’s an extremely violent and bloody showdown.
It reminded me of some of the early Guy Ritchie films with their bizarre characters, crass language, and deep set accents. Wheatley co-wrote the script with Amy Jump and they’ve written distinct characters giving their actors plenty to work with despite the other constraints on the story. It’s worth the rental if you get a kick out of these kinds of action movies with nutter butter characters.
-Audio Commentary with Director Ben Wheatley, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor
-The Making of Free Fire – a 16-minute behind the scenes look at the meticulous means it took to make Free Fire. It’s an insightful look at how Wheatley wrote, directed, and edited the film as they were filming. There’s a look into the costumes, special effects, and the extensive storyboarding that went into it. You great a real sense from all of the actors that they all loved working with Wheatley.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS