Free Fire

Director: Ben Wheatley.
Screenplay: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump.
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley, Jack Reynor, Baboo Ceesay, Noah Taylor, Enzo Cilenti, Mark Monero, Patrick Bergin.

“I told you, I don’t wanna work with anyone who’s carrying a loaded weapon”

In a short space of time, Ben Wheatley has fast became one of the most interesting and intriguing of director’s and it’s beginning to look like he wants to try his hand at many genres. Kill List was a heady mix of kitchen-sink drama and horror, Sightseers was a black comedy, High Rise was a dystopian morality tale on class divide and now with Free Fire, he sets out to deliver an unashamed action piece.Ā 

Plot: In a deserted Boston warehouse, two gangs meet to do business selling guns but when discussions break down, things get out of hand. Shots are fired and before long everyone finds themselves just trying to get out alive.

If you can imagine Reservoir Dogs remaining completely within its warehouse setting and all the characters adopting a Mexican stand-off for the entire length of the film then this should give you fair idea of what to expect from Free Fire. It terms of plot, the film doesn’t have very much happening but that doesn’t stop it from being a throughly tense and enjoyable action spectacle.

What Wheatley has crafted here isn’t your basic action material, though. The plot may be sparse but he invests a lot into his characters and his choice selection of actors repay his investment. Sharlto Copley had been turning in a lot of embarrassing performances of late but he’s back to his pathetic best here. Meanwhile, the underrated Armie Hammer makes a solid impression and Cillian Murphy delivers his usual understated reliability. We also have the likes of Brie Larson, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor and Wheatley regular Michael Smiley. Like I say, it’s a solid cast that deliver great work and the decision to loosely tie it in to IRA arms dealing allows Wheatley to set it in the 1970’s and have the characters wear the suitable attire of the time. It’s a setting and style that brings a great look to the film.

Some have criticised Free Fire for being a Tarantino rip-off but this feels more like an experimental film for Wheatley. One were he’s decided to let loose and have some fun. It really has no right being as enjoyable as it is. Normally, when a film overplays the gunplay and action and focuses less on the plot I have a tendency to tune out. However, on this occasion, Wheatley and co. managed to hold my attention throughout.

Free Fire is nothing new. We’ve been here and done all this before and it’s probably Wheatley’s most simplistic film. But it’s also one of his most enjoyable with a tight running time that just flies by.

Mark Walker

Trivia: While planning out the dimensions of the set, Ben Wheatley built a scale replica of the film’s warehouse in the video game Minecraft.

20 Responses to “Free Fire”

  1. Glad to hear you saw this, Mark, and liked it as much as I did. I agree that while it’s in the spirit of (or homage to) QT, this was a good experiment for Wheatley. Quite enjoyable, even if you and I knew where it would end up, body-count-wise. šŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Im a huge fan of Wheatley, Michael. All of his films have impressed me but I was genuinely surprised at his ability to do action. This was great fun and the time just flew by, I was having so much fun with it. I normally dont even like action movies but this was great!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I liked this as much as you did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear this didnt work for you, Amon. I had a ball with this one. Genuinely surprised that Wheatley pulled off an action film but it was the characters that really tied it all together for me. Loved the look of it too.


  3. Glad you took the time to give a fine review. I’m definately going to watch it. The cast looks great and I’m a Wheatly fan. Since Tarantino has gone off the deep end and his films have lost my enthusiasm, I’m glad for simplicity and this looks enjoyable. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Simplicity is what you’ll get here, Cindy. The plot is very basic and there’s nothing challenging about it. This is a put your feet up type of film. Just let it entertain.


  4. I thought this one was a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, I see that you really liked it. This looks like the kind of movie to have a blast too. Fantastic review, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good stuff mate! I think this one worked better on paper for me than in reality though. I enjoyed it overall, and I think it’s a really fun idea, but the shootout started to drag for me and I lost interest, despite the short running time. My favourite scenes were actually at the beginning before it all kicked off – I thought it worked better and was more tense when the potential for something to go wrong was hanging in the air, and wished there had been another ten minutes of thinly-veiled insults and uneasy tolerance before the gun play. Yours sincerely, Mr Piss-on-the-chips.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As above, I didn’t get into this, lost interest, the only saving grace was Copley’s humour. I don’t know why I watch this directors films, they always get praised but I never get it. Kill List was a great premise but faded and went too weird, High Rise was slightly better, I dunno man, maybe his work just isn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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