Armie Hammer

‘Free Fire’ Review (non-spoiler)

If you haven’t heard of Free Fire then you are not alone; as the film could’t even cross $1 Million on its opening weekend at the Box Office.  I missed its opening weekend as well and had to catch it in the middle of the week following the film’s initial release.

Free Fire is an adrenaline filled black comedy directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, and Sharito Copley.  Set in Boston (1978), Free Fire tells the story of an Irish gang and a group of arms dealers meeting up at an abandoned warehouse to make a trade.  After personal agendas and personalities clash things go south very fast.  Resulting in everyone shooting at each other.  As the night goes on, the odds of making it out of the warehouse alive gradually decrease.

Right off the bat I must say I enjoyed the film very much.  Wheatley is able to turn the premise of a paid-by-the-numbers shootout film on its head by showing this assortment of idiots and weirdoes forced to crawl around on a warehouse floor through dust and broken glass, randomly shooting at whoever they see near them.  And while that seems like a very simple movie, it really is.  But Wheatley is able to keep the film engaging by sprinkling dark humor throughout the entirety of the film.  I almost feel bad about how much fun I had watching these poor thugs and gun runners get shot at for almost 90 minutes straight.

The acting is great in this movie as well.  Every one of the well-known, and most of not so well-known, actors manage to portray characters that are desperate to survive, determined to kill, and yet have their own standout personalities.  Out of all the actors, Armie Hammer is the standout – probably giving his best performance to date; portraying a stone-cold hit man for hire stuck among a bunch of basic idiots with guns and no guts.

While the prospect of following a group of the same characters in the same situation in the same place and having it take only 90 minutes to tell can sound like it would get old, it doesn’t.  Wheatley’s formula of building up a character’s confidence, then cutting them off at the kneecaps (or literally blowing off the kneecaps) manages to draw out the intensity of the shootout for as long as possible, while also showing character development as the situation intensifies.  This formula also makes the film feel random and chaotic – something a film would normally get destroyed for doing.  However, since the film is almost entirely the one shootout, making it chaotic is the best way to build suspense in this situation.

Now, Free Fire is not a perfect movie by any means.  There are two things in particular that stand out.

The first is that not 100% of the characters are likeable, or even necessary.  There are two or three that probably could have not even been in the movie and nothing would have changed.  Most of the time I would forget they were even there until the camera showed them hiding behind small slaps of concrete.  Then Id be pulled out of the movie because I couldn’t remember who’s side they were on.

The second thing is something that a lot of shooting based films suffer from, and that is characters having nearly an unlimited supply of bullets.  Wheatley is not shy about showing the characters as they franticly reload their guns when the clips run out, but it happens over and over and over again.  And at some point, it makes no sense the number of bullets being shot by some of the characters.  At the very beginning of the movie they are seen being frisked for wires by Hammer’s characters, but no mention is made of the fact that each person apparently has enough rounds in their pockets for a 90-minute shootout.  Eventually a few characters do manage run out, but only when it conveniently fits to movie the plot along.  Unlimited ammunition at the end of the day is a very small nitpick but it still manages to take away from the overall very realistic feel the rest of the movie manages to convey

However, like I said before, I enjoyed Free Fire.  Its real world, shoot out scenario is a breath of fresh air among big CGI blockbusters. I highly recommend checking this film out if you are a fan of dark humor, or shootouts.  My score for Free Fire is 3.75/5.

Are you one of the few that have seen Free Fire? If you haven’t seen it, does it seem like something you’d be interested in? Leave a comment below and we can make a discussion about it.