This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Free Fire” is directed by Ben Wheatley who also directed the very interesting film “High-Rise” that I really enjoyed so I was curious what he would do in this genre. This one also has a great cast headlined by; Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor.
The premise of this story is simple. It’s the late 70’s, two gang rendezvous out it an abandon warehouse in Boston for an arms deal, and basically shit-hits-the-fan and the night turns into a fight for survival for all those inside, with bullets flying in all directions.
Now I was very excited for this movie. I only watched one short trailer for it and the snippet of what it showed looked to be a wildly adventurous, very claustrophobic action movie. With heavy doses of witty humor, and that was exactly what it delivered.
I had such a great time watching this film. Now, is the story perfect, no it isn’t. But it was very simple, more than enough to set the groundwork for the plot, and a perfect vehicle to allow the eccentric and diverse cast of personalities carry the load. Something it was very successful in accomplishing.
With this film centering on a single night, during one event, once the story sets the stage it isn’t really needed as the movie turns into a pure fight for survival. The rest of the film focuses on the characters trying to survive that single incident and once that happens the personalities and performances take over completely and it was fantastic.
A good way to describe this film is like this. Imagine you are watching a really cool, kick-ass, action movie with a great warehouse shootout somewhere in the second-act that really ramps up the tension. And while you are watching that scene you think, hmm, what if this entire scene was given some added layers, expanded, and turned into an entire film?
That was exactly what this turned out to be with a highly entertaining result. It was unconventional, doesn’t follow the common three-act structure, and the uniqueness of it all added so much to what was in a sense, a routine premise.
The cast as a whole were great. There was a wide range of style and personality in the characters, each with their own unique brand of eccentricity and the casting was excellently fitted to them. Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy were fantastic as the more grounded characters of the group.
Armie Hammer was also great in this movie as he brings in my favorite performance of his. I think he got a bad rap for the failures of “The Lone Ranger” but I really enjoyed him in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and his small role in “Nocturnal Animals” and I think he is underrated. Because he shines comically and with the action in this movie and overall, he was a great addition.
The true star of this film though, without question to me was Sharlto Copley however. He was perfect for this role and once again he brings in a wildly entertaining performance that far excels the already great material he had to work with.
But to their credit; Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump both collaborated to write a great script. The dialogue was well tailored to the cast members, the comedy was natural, simple, and clever, all at the same time and it was very effective in generating solid laughs amid all the gun-play. This was a great example of how an action-comedy can be great, and doesn’t always need the traditional buddy-cop or duo formula.
The action was also well shot. For a single location, Ben Wheatley does a great job of framing the shots up with a lot of variety. The story also uses the entire warehouse to its advantage and by the time the third-act comes around the entire place is one horrifically awesome playground.
The pace does slow slightly late in the second-act but it is only minor before things ramp back up and overall this was a swift movie that entertains from start-to-finish. This was a fun movie. It was gratuitous violence done excellently, with subtly hilarious lines and scenarios splashed in. I looked into this film and with what looks like a budget hovering around only $10 million, you have to be impressed with the final result. If you like gritty, violent action movies with effective humor, then “Free Fire” is worth a watch.