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Hollywood Movie 'Free Fire' Movie Review : Here Comes The Action Booms

“You didn’t masturbate before you got here, did you?”
“Told you, I don’t work with anybody who’s carrying a loaded weapon.”

“Free Fire” (2017):

Hollywood Movie 'Free Fire' Movie Review : Here Comes The Action Booms

Directed by Ben Wheatley, “Free Fire” has the aesthetic of a good old fashioned 1970s throwback shoot ‘em up thriller about a shady gun deal gone bad in an abandoned factory. Chris (Cillian Murphy), along with his band of idiotic “muscle”, is an Irish military agent looking to do the buying; Ord (Armie Hammer) is a suavely-dressed representative of the seller with an affection for sarcasm that introduces Chris to the seller of the weapons, Vernon (Sharlto Copley), whom is also fairly dimwitted in his own right but does seem to know his way around a business deal.

The meeting gets off on the wrong foot right from the start when Chris realizes that Vernon brought him the wrong shipment of guns, although Vernon is able to slowly pacify him after letting Chris test drive one of the weapons. After that misunderstanding cools off, things look like they will finally go as planned until one Vernon’s henchmen, Harry (Jack Reynor), notices that one of Chris’s associates, Stevo (Sam Riley), is the guy that brutally abused his female cousin the day before. The two had already fought that same day with Harry getting a few good licks in on Stevo, however the two break into a skirmish once again in the factory and heightens the anxiety of everybody involved since, you know, the whole being surrounded by crates full of automatic weapons. Once again, Vernon and Chris are able to get their parties under control until one of the two aforementioned henchmen breaks loose and starts firing rounds; needless to say, sh*t starts to hit the fan as the group disbands and the briefcase of money brought to the exchange starts to change hands and the meeting becomes a game of Capture the Flag where the briefcase is the Flag and anybody going after it is going to get shot.

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As far as the story is concerned, that’s about all there is to it. There are a few small twist and turns thrown in along the way that indicates the deal was never going to go as well as planned, though, truthfully, the results were likely going to be same regardless. This type of thing has been done countless times in cinema throughout the years, but Wheatley still found a way to make it fun. The genius behind the strengths in “Free Fire” is that none of these characters, despite the nature of their respective businesses, are trained assassins, which essentially means that they miss their targets more than they hit them, and to see this go down with same said characters whom think they are lethal killing machines is pretty comical. That being said, seeing bullets bounce off inanimate objects would likely get boring after a while, so when a bullet does connect, Wheatley does not skimp on the blood; nothing overly cartoonish and you’re not going to see any glorious hits to the head to make them burst like melons, but the damage is inflicting enough to cause all thirteen members of this group to crawl and hobble around as they slowly bleed out.

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Outside of that, Wheatley does prove himself to be a decent technician behind the lens. On a worldly scale, “Free Fire” is quite small and confined; however, thirteen is a big number of bodies to keep track off and the factory floor is littered with stairwells, old machinery, debris, and other various obstacles that help the characters take cover and gives Wheatley the additional challenge of keeping track of them all fluently. Overall, certainly does just that. He shows terrific command of the environment and keeps the multiple faces in said environment on enough of a loop that the action can be from so many different angles and perspectives that it can stay fresh – mostly.

The big caveat to all of this, and what ultimately makes the latter half of the Second Act start to drag its feet, is that there is no one to route for, at least not one that I could find and that can a short film feel a little long. Of course, a film like this can get by without that and still be enjoyable if it wasn’t practically asking you to route for one of the characters, i.e., Brie Larson as the arrangement buffer Justine, and more notably, the only woman in the cast. It would have been a bigger deal if the film didn’t make it a big deal that she’s the only woman there, except it kind of does, or at least subtly enough that you wonder why she practically doesn’t exist until the (brutally awesome) Third Act as if to say, “Ah, see, she can stand up for herself.” If I gravitated towards anybody, it was Hammer as the smartass Ord, because that’s the kind of person I am, but even then, I’m fairly certainly I caught myself looking at my watch wondering when something exciting was going to happen once the concept’s original shine started to wear off.

Fortunately, as I alluded to, the film does build up to a satisfying and gory Blaze of Glory that puts a stylish stamp on a film all about the violence and people not equipped to handle it. “Free Fire”, for me, was certainly more impressive from a technical standpoint than it was conceptually, but the scales do tip in its favor enough to be entertaining for ninety minutes. For a B-movie trying to show off its skills, expectations really need not be any higher than that.

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I do not personally need to see this again, but it’s a good thriller to turn your brain off for just the same, and I can recommend it only under those circumstances.

“Free Fire”: 7.5/10

Home Media: Definitely rent it first, but if you like and want to buy, the Blu-Ray has been cheap since it’s debut at just under $13.
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