Review by Dustin Heller
Free Fire is a new action-comedy film from director and co-writer Ben Wheatley. Wheatley is a bit of a genre director with previous works such as Kill List and High-Rise. With Free Fire, he’s assembled an A-list cast that includes Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor. The film is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use.
Set against the backdrop of 1970’s Boston, the film takes place in an old abandoned warehouse where a black-market weapons deal is about to go down. The deal is between a member of the Irish Republican Army and a South African gun runner along with their respective crews. Everything is mostly going to plan until a couple of the crew members recognize each other and have some unfinished business from the night before. One thing leads to another and shots are fired, setting off a chain reaction that results in an epic gun battle where the last man standing takes it all.
Free Fire is a stylized genre film that really wants to be cool and hipster, but really misses its mark. The movie has the look and feel of a Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie film, but without the entertainment value of those filmmakers. The story unfolds in real time and in turn gets quite repetitive and boring about twenty minutes in. This is really the biggest flaw with the film because you’re waiting for something more to happen, but it never does. There is quite a bit of snarky humor and the characters are all oddly unique, but it all gets lost in the monotony of the hour plus shoot-out scene. The performances of the actors are quite good and noteworthy, but the script wasn’t strong enough to let their characters develop. All in all, Free Fire is the type of movie that I would normally love, but instead its just another film that I’ll probably forget all about after writing this review.
Free Fire opens in theaters on Friday, April 21.