Movie Review – Free Fire
Director and co-writer Ben Wheatley has made a movie that has ten people in a warehouse, one room mostly, and has them shoot at each other until they’re all dead. This isn’t like The Hateful Eight (2015) where at least Quentin Tarantino was trying to say something about racism. Tarantino’s film wasn’t continuous gun fire either. No, this film is perhaps more in common with John Wick (2014), but Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s film was more about the choreography of the combat, whether it was through gun action or traditional martial arts. Wheatley’s film isn’t about the choreography. It’s not really about anything, except irrational greed, pride and revenge. Yet, it’s rendered in a way that makes it feel like it’s not about those things specifically, as though those things are just there to spurt on more shooting. In reality, it’s an action flick and crime drama that is rather hollow.
When people think of long or involved shootouts, people would probably think of Sam Peckinpah, Michael Mann or John Woo, but maybe Wheatley wasn’t going for that. Maybe he didn’t want the graceful choreography of John Wick. Maybe he wanted something more sloppy or messier. Maybe he wanted something dirtier. If so, he accomplished that, but that’s all he accomplishes. There’s just not enough set-up for us to care about these characters, if they live or die, and if either one escapes or not.
I was more invested in the shootout at the end of The Magnificent Seven remake last year. It’s not that that 2016 movie did much to develop Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt’s characters, as well as any of the others. It did set-up stakes and some deeper meaning for why we should care about what was being fought for. Wheatley does establish his characters to some degree, and it helps that the people are constantly yelling each other’s names, but we get very little context beyond a few nuggets.
Brie Larson (Room and Short Term 12) who plays Justine and Armie Hammer (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Birth of a Nation) who plays Ord are the only ones that stand out, but that’s because those two are probably the most famous actors in the cast. Still I could care less about them. Beyond Larson being the only woman there and Hammer being the statuesque stud that he is who was basically playing his same character from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., there wasn’t much to distinguish them or make us root for them.
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.
Available on DVD / VOD.