Action-comedy Free Fire sticks to its guns and will blow you away
Free Fire Director: Ben Wheatley Stars: Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Michael Smiley, Armie Hammer Cult- favourite British director Ben Wheatley returns with his sixth feature film, his most high-profile to date.
The cast includes Brie Larson, the Oscar-winning star of Room, District 9’s Sharlto Copley, The Man from UNCLE’s Armie Hammer and Batman Begins and Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy, while the list of executive producers is headed by none other than Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese.
Despite a cast that spans three continents, a production team with a distinctly US flavour and a premise that is undeniably high- concept Hollywood – an arms deal between two gangs in a disused factory goes wrong and carnage ensues – Wheatley has made the movie equivalent of that most English of condiments, Marmite. In other words, you will either love it or hate it. This much was clear from members of the audience we spoke to in December after the movie’s regional premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival.
You can understand why this film is not for everyone. There is nothing remotely original about it – the word “derivative” could have been invented for it. Imagine the climactic stand-off from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs stretched out for 90 minutes, with a script from the writers of BBC TV comedy Little Britain, and you have Free Fire in a nutshell.
It is a solid hour and a half of non- stop gunfire, explosions and bloodshed. By all rights, it should be terrible.
However, the always on-point husband-and-wife writing team of Wheatley and Amy Jump somehow successfully elevate the movie from dumb action territory into the realms of high comedy amid the blood and guts.
Most of the film takes place in a single location but thanks to Wheatley’s long-sweeping shots and the impressive performanc- es – in particular Copley’s South African would- be Al Capone, Vern, and Michael Smiley’s recovering alcoholic Irish thug, Frank – it seems much more expansive than a simple, confined-space bullet fest. It is not uncommon in heist movies for the gang to be lumbered with one useless member. Here almost everybody is a contender for the most incompetent gangster – they are, in effect, the Keystone Criminals.
The film is loud, fast-moving, and utterly ludicrous, but let the sheer ridiculousness wash over you and you are in for one of the most joyously entertaining 90 minutes you will spend in a cinema.
(l-r) Armie Hammer as Ord, Brie Larson as Justine, Cillian Murphy as Chris, Sam Riley as Stevo and Michael Smiley as Frank in Free Fire, a film that is loud, fast moving and extremely entertaining.