Movie Review: ‘Free Fire’


Director: Ben Wheatley

Cast: Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, Noah Taylor, Michael Smiley, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley

Plot: A group representing the IRA meet with an arms dealer in Boston to make a deal. When it turns out there’s bad blood between some of the muscle on either side the situation degrades into a prolonged shoot-out.

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Movie: This sneaky devil has managed to slip under the radar, especially locally where it didn’t warrant a cinematic release. This is surprising given the cast. Oscar winner Brie Larson, Armie Hammer from The Social Network, Sharlto Copley from District 9, Cillian Murphy from The Dark Knight trilogy and Peaky Blinders plus a stellar assortment of familiar character actors make for an impressive ensemble in anyone’s book.

Larson is Justine, who acts as an intermediary between the buyers (Smiley, Murphy, Riley, Cilenti) and the sellers (Copley, Hammer, Reynor, Ceesay, Taylor). At first the deal goes fine, in spite of the wrong model of rifles being supplied, and they almost all walk away happen. When one of the sellers recognises one of the buyers as a man who’d sexually and physically abused his cousin the previous night he becomes enraged and violence breaks out.

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What follows is a good hour plus of shooting between the two factions. The action is restricted to the one warehouse setting, although a few surprises turn up here and there. It isn’t long before the conflict reaches the point of no return and it’s not a matter of who wins, but who survives. There’s nothing especially grandiose about the action, it’s grounded in reality (mostly) and every impact is painful. A good chunk of the characters spend the film dragging themselves along the ground after taking hits.

With the 20 minute first act we learn about each of the figures involved, who’s the most dangerous and who is a wildcard. Whilst none of them are sympathetic, it does ensure that there aren’t any Red Shirts among the group. Much of the tension from the restricted set up comes with knowing that any of the characters could be the next casualty.

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This set-up isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you appreciate a film-maker who challenges themselves and gritty action it’s well worth checking out.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN

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