Release Date: April 21st, 2017
Cast: Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay
Director: Ben Wheatley
Studio: Film4 Productions, BFI, Rook Films, Protagonist Pictures
Distributor: StudioCanal UK
Genre: Action Comedy
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Free Fire begins close, two haggard men named Stevo and Bernie riding in an RV. Stevo has been beaten to hell and back and Bernie’s curious about the wounds. Stevo tells him that the cousin of a woman he was messing with beat him up. They’re both seedy characters and they’re up to seedy business, helping a gun deal go down between members of the IRA, played by Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley, and gunrunners, played perfectly by Sharlto Copley and Babou Seesay, with some hired muscle of their own.
Overseeing the deal and ensuring, or hoping for, it to go off without a hitch are Justine (played by Brie Larson) and Armie Hammer as Ord. That’s our cast for the movie, a bunch of criminals and ne’er-do-wells, who are decidedly unsavory for a multitude of different reasons. It should be unsurprising when things go sidewise and remain at that tilt for an hour and a half.
Free Fire might feel a lot like the many other comedy crime movies out there and with good reason. The quippy crook is a common enough archetype these days but this whole movie is made up of that archetype and each one is unique enough to be the stars of their own films. Each actor does an excellent job creating their personas, they’re quippy and quick with a gun. But the movie staging, that the film is one entire shootout, and the turns of power and twists of plans puts it a head above the rest.
As mentioned, the actors all do a fantastic job. Sharlto Copley deserves an Oscar just for how much joy his natural accent puts into every weird line he slings whether it’s hitting on Justine, whining about things not going his way, or taking a turn towards the menacing. Armie Hammer plays the clearly former-military Ord with ridiculous charisma. Though Brie Larson is a bit underutilized, she’s great every time she’s on screen.
It’s not 20 minutes in when our entire cast has taken cover and spend the rest of it yelling from behind corners or boxes and from that point on it relies solely on their individuals charms to carry, and they all do so with gusto.
The props and setting are great, an old abandoned warehouse is a perfect locale for a gun deal to go down and, as it turns out, for a shootout to rampage. The gunplay is done extremely well with every shot having weight to it, every possible wound being one to worry about or look after often to great humorous effect for the audience.
Free Fire is a delightfully fun battle of wits and weapons over the course of an impossibly tense and fast hour and a half. It is simple in its plot but perfect in design and executed to outrageous success. In theaters everywhere now.