Free Fire is a crime drama directed by Ben Wheatley, set in in 1978 Boston, as two gangs show up to a warehouse for an arms deal, the film stars Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley and Cillian Murphy.
One of the most positively any fims I’ve seen in a while, Free Fire is actually a breath of fresh air for the somewhat tired crime genre, the final result is something expected but still enjoyable nonetheless and with a pretty great cast to kick things into gear, you know you’re in for a bit of a ride. The films set up feels very familiar with gangs meeting for an arms deal and what could possibly go wrong…. well things would be a bit dull with a familiar set up and generic by the numbers plot but what makes the film in essence, is its strong, distinct characters. Helmed by some quite good writing and that quirky, late 70s aesthetic to the characters outfits.
Said characters are played well by character actors like Sharlto Copley, hamming it up as a short tempered South African arms dealer, he feels very natural in the role as a mouthy yet prim and proper individual and it makes for some great scenes playing off other characters like Ord (Armie Hammer) who is every bit the suave, confident and assured straight dealer with Hammer seemingly enjoying himself quite a bit. Meanwhile characters in the Irish gang are themselves distinct and strong willed, especially with the foul tempered Frank (Michael Smiley), the performances actually surprised me to be honest as I wasn’t expecting anything outstanding from the story but there were some fairly strong performances present.
The action is gritty, a tad gory but never needlessly so I feel, not to the level of say Green Room or Reservoir Dogs (the film Free Fire) will naturally be compared to but make no mistake, the film is fairly bloody and that may be one of the weaker points of the film for me, only because the over the top, extended action ends up making the film feel like an extended Family guy sket. And the final third is definitely the weakest part to the film in my opinion. Indeed the film ends up like a family guy sket or a Tarantino lite film. It’s Tarantino lite because it’s nowhere near as heavy on the extended dialogue or references or as well written but similar in terms of the single setting, long takes and over the top action, this may prove a joy to watch for some or a poor homage for others – namely an homage to Tarantino films.
But for what it’s worth, the film does what it does fairly well, it’s entertaining, engaging and chock full of strong, interesting characters fun, wacky interactions and a plot that keeps you on your toes, simplicity is the key here and it works for the most part, though if you’re expecting any depth or a heavy amount of story, you’ll probably be disappointed.
. Well shot action
. Strong performances, engaging characters
. Final third may feel a bit too over the top