Free Fire, 2016.
Directed by Ben Wheatley.
Starring Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, Enzo Cilenti, Babou Ceesay, and Jack Reynor.
Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.
When you’re doing an illegal arms deal, what’s the worst that could go wrong? Well in Ben Wheatley’s hilarious Free Fire pretty much everything does. Set in 1978 (kudos to costume designer Emma Fryer) in Boston, a gang of Irish are buying guns from dealer Vernon (Copley). Right from the off there’s tension and after two of the rival team members recognise each other all hell breaks loose. Set almost entirely in one warehouse, Free Fire is a near constant gun battle between the two sides, packed full of over the top violence and a ton of comedy. It is 90 minutes of pure enjoyable silliness from one of the most exciting directors around.
On paper Free Fire shouldn’t work. Set in one location, with barely a single likeable character and no real plot to speak of and yet somehow Wheatley and his co-writer Amy Jump have made it work. Each character has their own little quirks. Copley is hilarious as arms dealer Vernon who was misdiagnosed as a child genius and never got over it. Then you have Larson as meeting organised Justine who’s out for herself, Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley as the two Irish gang members, their lackies Sam Riley and Enzo Clienti. On the other side we have an array of low lifes and the standout is Armie Hammer’s Ord – a suave and sophisticated 70s dude with a luscious beard.
Once the action kicks off there’s bullets and knives flying everywhere. Everyone gets hit in the legs and arms with one unfortunate (Ceesay) taking a bullet to the side of his head in hilarious fashion. Everyone is crawling around in the dirt and struggling to get out of the building. The fact that everyone is slowly getting hit and not dying just makes the whole thing funnier and sillier.
Supported with a jazzy score from Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury Free Fire is a simple but sublime piece of filmmaking that will have you laughing from start to finish.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★