By: Alex Perez
Spanning in at a quick 90 minute runtime, director Ben Wheatley decided it would be a good idea to film a movie precariously set on a group of characters shooting guns at each other the whole time. He certainly did that with Free Fire, and when it works, it works very well. It’s not as dark and certainly not as high-concept as his other work, but none of those roots get in the way. Wheatley can still work effectively in one location, and deliver just as much violence and swearing as you’d imagine such a film could handle.
To elevate the material further, Free Fire offers a fantastic ensemble cast. Sharlto Copley is hilarious, as well as Jack Reynor and Sam Riley. Armie Hammer and the rest of the gang essentially warrant their presence through facial hair and costume, though still work perfectly and embody the characters nicely. Brie Larson fairs as a favorite for the characters and the audience, but that was a given- it’s goddamn Brie Larson. While everyone has a personal quirk and goal in mind, it’s actually refreshing to see everyone share the utmost fault of genuine idiocy. Foremost creating the only reason for the shootout to happen, meanwhile making it impossible who to root for.
Loud gun shots constantly scuff their way through suits, brick, and whatever lie in their way. As mentioned consisting of a majority of the movie, everyone’s got someone or to aim toward. If you’ve ever played a nerf battle in someone’s house, it’s roughly that. No one wants to go out in the open; eyes are everywhere. Just as it seems, the fight is unpredictable. Nothing works in favor of the other team, making it all the more entertaining to see who gets where- unless you can’t see. People are moving quick, and with handheld camera work, you can’t always pick up on real-time actions. At times it almost felt unsatisfying to watch without a clear focus.
An amusing script tones the film to a point where we can apprehend how these characters act in the situation. It’s a leans more toward insults and than clever jokes ones, but never forgets to, or looses hold on its comedic persona. Right when there’s nothing to laugh at, there no reason not laugh.
As any of Ben’s films go, it’s not going to work for everyone. He’s a film maker who’s not afraid to show what he wants, and in that case- actually “do” what he intends. It’s no big spectacle, and there no reason it needs to be in the end. Free Fire is all it needed to be- bloody, snarky, and smart in it’s own right.
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