Bullet flying and fun loving, FREE FIRE is a high-energy, shoot-em up, comedy thrill ride that does not disappoint.
Located almost entirely in one giant warehouse, FREE FIRE is simply about an illegal transaction gone wrong with everyone involved shooting at one another for 90 minutes.
Fitting nicely into the light-hearted, gun-playing genre that’s reminiscent of the stylized action gangster films from the 90’s, FREE FIRE is both cool and playful. Director Ben Wheatley, who also wrote the screenplay with long-time collaborator Amy Jump, is clearly influenced by the likes of Quentin Tarantino but cares less about innovative substance. Probably resembling most closely to Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS as far as tone, FREE FIRE reinvents John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” in memorable gruesome fashion much like Tarantino did for Steeler’s Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You.”
Two groups are trying to make a deal. Chris (Cillian Murphy), Frank (Michael Smiley), Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Client) want to buy the guns. Vernon (Sharlto Copley), Martin (Babou Ceesay), Harry (Jack Reynor), and Gordon (Noah Taylor) want to sell the guns. Ord (Armie Hammer) is hired to facilitate the illegal transaction. Justine (Brie Larson) is the go between who sets the whole deal up between the two parties. When an altercation happens between each of the group’s lackeys, it triggers a bullet whizzing battle that leaves no one unscathed.
The cast is perfectly wild through their insanely casual demeanor toward such rapid careless gun play. Everyone involved seems to understand the type of movie they are making and are enjoying the process. Each character has a distinct personality with quips and physical humor firing just as hard and fast as their ammunition. The problem for the players but treat for the viewer is that this giant game of paintball is being played with real bullets and everyone gets a splatter. The most interesting and enjoyable aspect is that all these yahoos aren’t very accurate or neat with their aim in this chaotic situation. The multiple arm, leg, and even head wounds give each one the ability to limp or crawl on in a fight that probably stretches a little longer than necessary.
A24 films are on a roll, producing recent gems like ROOM, THE WITCH, GREEN ROOM, KRISHA, DEPALMA, SWISS ARMY MAN, and last year’s Best Picture winner MOONLIGHT. FREE FIRE isn’t trying to win any awards, it’s just a good time.
I had a blast with FREE FIRE, but where I really like the film, I’m sure a younger version of myself would probably love it. I envision FREE FIRE posters hanging in dorm rooms much like SCARFACE, RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, SNATCH or THE BOONDOCK SAINTS did in my day.