❉ Ben Wheatley gets down and dirty in this boisterous, violent, trigger-happy action flick.
Thoroughly inconsequential and better off because of that, Ben Wheatley’s wickedly entertaining Free Fire is a film of no redeeming social value, and completely awesome fun during all of its extra-tight 85 minute run time. There are few other relatively new filmmakers who inspire as much excitement as Wheatley does for me, and one of the reasons for this fact is that I can’t pin him down. He marches to the beat of his own drum and I love him for that; I just can’t see him getting seduced by Marvel or doing a “for fire” job because each of his films has demonstrated such distinct personality. And with his latest, he’s riffing and skimming on Quentin Tarantino-land, and having a blast in doing so. And despite the film not catching on with audiences in America, I can see it becoming something of a cult classic down the road. Movies that are too hip for the room sometimes take a bit of time in catching on.
Free Fire is EXACTLY as advertised: 15 minutes of set-up, and 70 minutes of violent, trigger-happy action with loads of black comedy thrown skillfully into the mix. And if you’ve seen any of the fantastic trailers, then your expectations should be set high. Feeling like a Tarantino film stripped of that master filmmaker’s occasional pretension and bloat, this scuzzy, morally bankrupt little flick operates in guns-blazing mode with a massive smile on its face, with a bevy of colorful characters spouting off vulgarity-laced one-liners at each other.
The premise is simple: an arms sale has gone awry due to a rather ridiculous but compelling off-screen incident, the two parties open fire on each other inside of an abandoned and derelict warehouse, and nobody is truly safe at any point during the raucous narrative. Everyone is armed, everyone is dangerous, and everyone has a massive chip on their shoulder.
Wheatley co-scripted with his wife, Amy Jump, and it’s obvious that they are a terrific creative team. Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley steal the show, Brie Larson has fun kicking some ass, and everyone else clearly had a ball with the down and dirty material. Laurie Rose’s excellent widescreen cinematography opts for inventive camera placement with a sense of heightened reality, with Jump and Wheatley’s razor-sharp editing never wasting a moment. While not as thought provoking as Wheatley’s A Field in England, as downright twisted as Kill List, or as subversive as last year’s descent into societal hell High-Rise, the boisterous and purposefully obnoxious Free Fire exists simply because its creators wanted it to exist, and sometimes, cleverly made throwaway items like this can be both enjoyable for the audience and important for the filmmakers as a way of pushing towards something more substantial or groundbreaking.
- Audio commentary with Ben Wheatley, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor
- ‘Making of Free Fire’ featurette
- Interviews with cast and crew
❉ ‘Free Fire’ is available from Studio Canal to download from 31 July 2017, and on DVD & Blu-Ray from 7 August 2017. Pre-order link: http://scnl.co/FreeFireDVD
❉ The Free Fire soundtrack by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury is also available through Invada Records.
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.
❉ He is also a regular contributor for MovieViral.com, a site dedicated to providing the best news and analysis on viral marketing and ARG campaigns for films and other forms of entertainment.