Ben Wheatley has been building a bloody lovely body of work that’s spanned nearly 10 years already and within each film is a different story, great casts and something deeply interesting going. Free Fire is a refreshing, dark humoured and unusually real take on the classic thrillers and shoot-out films from the 70s and 80s but with a definite modern, forward-thinking touch.
Wheatley, working again with Amy Jump on the screenplay, found himself somewhat bored by the mainstream action-films he was seeing at the cinema, ones where cities burn, thousands of random people die and action-scenes are all superheroes, and so went back through films of the era that inspired him to love the industry he’s working in today. The result is Free Fire and an all-star cast playing a cracking, funny script that also somehow builds backgrounds and lives for characters in a very unusual situation.
Brie Larson plays Justine, a woman who’s setup a deal in a deserted warehouse for some guns. Buying the guns is Cillian Murphy’s Chris and Michael Smiley’s Frank, and a scrap-pack of helpers that includes Sam Riley’s hilarious drug-addict Stevo and Bernie, his buddy played by Enzo Cilenti. The latter two bring a calamitous, comedy element in what’s to come. Selling the guns to them is Sharlto Copley’s cocky and fine-suited Vernon alongside confident and charming Ord, portrayed by Armie Hammer. Backing up the gang is Noah Taylor’s Gordon, Jack Reynor’s Harry, who almost steals the show, and sharp-dressed Martin, played by Babou Ceesay. Very simply: the gun deal goes wrong after shots are fired and from that point, it’s survival of the luckiest.
The all-star cast is important to mention because they’re a tight group of talented actors who all have unique moments of their own, it feels slightly improv’d in places but in a dark, funny and disturbing way – which I’d always expect from Jump and Wheatley. Free Fire is energising because it feels like a proper shoot out film, where people get a bullet through their leg or arm, and other places, but don’t instantly die, which is all we ever see on-screen at the moment. It’s not Tarantino, this is Wheatley’s own brand of action, and filmed with that perfect late 70s vibe throughout with a touch of John Denver used in an amusing manner.
Free Fire is one of those experiences to throw yourself into and completely enjoy, it’s not every day you get a thriller that’s a fine mix of the unknown whilst also being original and smartly scripted. You’ll finish the film feeling like you’ve been treated to some proper entertaining escapism, and for all the bullets flying, this really celebrates the best of the classic action genre and still manages to offer something innovative and exciting.
Free Fire is out now on Blu-ray and DVD to own. Order here: http://amzn.to/2vfVClC