So I just saw Ben Wheatley’s newest film Free Fire and I enjoyed it! I’ll admit that I have never seen a Ben Wheatley film but went into this knowing almost nothing besides the fact that this was a gangster film with Cillian Murphy and Bae Larson. I honestly had so much fun with this. It’s both intense and hilarious and the cast is brilliant. If I had to summarize, I’d say it’s like a more action-oriented Reservoir Dogs.
Justine (Brie Larson) brokers a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer), who intend to sell them a stash of guns. But when shots fired during the handover, complete pandemonium ensues, with everyone at the scene suddenly thrust into a heart-stopping game of survival.
As with most action films, a story comes second for a film that’s centered on a singular gunfight. It’s not necessarily a detriment to the film, as it manages to move along at its own leisure, still managing to throw in some turns along the way, including flipping expectations around every so often. The setup for this big central conflict is flimsy, but in a movie world, you can use some suspension of disbelief for how everything escalates so quickly.
With so many characters involved, there is hardly any time for character development of any sort. The film establishes each character’s personality and personal goals and then the action starts. And because of that, the biggest performances will obviously stand out, and in this case, it’s Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer. Each has great comedic timing and a lot of personalities, more so than other characters that possess more toned down demeanors. Toned down does not mean bad, however, as Cillian Murphy delivers a pretty solid performance, as does Brie Larson, despite her character feeling really out of place. Both are buried under the noise of the rest of the cast and thus can’t really stick out on their own.
There are certainly silly moments throughout this gunfight. None of the dozen criminals or so is a good shot and that leaves the audience with a bunch of slightly wounded individuals crawling around a dirty factory. The action also isn’t particularly shot well, as director Ben Wheatley films it in such a way that it is hard to tell who is actually shooting at who. The pace doesn’t help the action either, as each time it ramps up something seems to cut it short from gathering momentum. Overall, it was a fun contained action movie that was really carried by its characters (especially Copley as Vernon).
SUPERSAM RATING: ★★★★