Review: Free Fire
You know how one of the most exciting and anticipated moments in a Quentin Tarantino movie is when there is tension built up over the course of ten minutes or so with really interesting dialogue until it boils over and explodes into amazing, bloody action? You know how that’s the best part of that film sometimes? Now imagine if that was the entire film and it was 90 minutes long. Can you picture that in your head? Okay, you just pictured Free Fire but it’s not as glorious as you think it is.
Director Ben Wheatley may not be a household name yet but that hasn’t stopped him from taking on really ambitious projects. He’s made such films as Kill List and High Rise (which are both totally worth watching despite not being everyone’s cup of tea) and now has decided to take a more darkly comedic approach with Free Fire. The story is about an illegal arms deal in a warehouse that goes south and erupts into an all-out gun fight. Where’s the story, right? Well, there really isn’t one beyond that premise but it’s interesting how he unfolds minor subject points during the action that thickens the plot. The first 30 minutes sets up the reason everyone is there and who they are. The remaining hour is all action, all the time and doesn’t relent for a second.
The cast of Free Fire is an indie film fan’s dream come true. Sharlto Copley (District 9, Maleficent) is billed as the star but this as ensemble as it gets, which he also agrees with in the interview I did with him which you can hear at the bottom of this review. Oscar-winner Brie Larson (Room, Kong: Skull Island), Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger), Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins), Sam Riley (On the Road, Maleficent) and Jack Reynor (Sing Street, MacBeth) round out most of the remaining cast. Everyone in the film is fantastic with Copley and Hammer stealing most of the movie with their interesting characters and hilarious dialogue.
Free Fire will absolutely find itself a cult audience. It’s an action comedy. It’s well made. It’s a period film with amazing attention to details. The problem is that the action gets monotone fairly quickly. After only ten minutes of gun fighting, you kind of get sick of it. Imagine going to a stunt show and you see someone light their motorcycle on fire and ride it around in a metal globe. Kick-ass, right?! Now imagine that you watch it for an hour. Sure, some things change here and there and the dialogue is really funny but it’s a one-tone film that fizzles way before the movie is over. Perhaps Free Fire will get better with time. I know that a lot of critics I’ve talked to loved it way more than I did. I hear their points, respect them, and even agree with a few. But as far as enjoying a film that I was really looking forward to goes…this fell short.
Listen to Gavin's interview with Sharlto Copley here: