Director, Ben Wheatley has yet to let me down. Since his film Down Terrace he has put out consistently challenging stuff. His latest film Free Fire is easily the best of these and that speaks volumes to how amazing this one is. Wheatley, also compounds the fact that he is one of the most interesting directors working today.
The setup is an easy one, some folks meet up in the middle of the night at an abandoned umbrella warehouse. The plan is to hand off some cash in return for guns. Simple, right? Well, not with this group, with the exception of Justine (Brie Larson) who looks to be the only sane one in the group, but more on that later. When confrontation is sparked between the two groups one gunshot is met with several gunshots echoing throughout the rest of the film.
Since the isolated gun fight lasts about an hour and ten minutes and the film is only an hour and thirty minutes, every bit of choreography is carefully conducted like a white-knuckle ballet for brutes. I’m a huge fan of single locations films, and this one sets the bar on how to go about making one. The filmmaking is an island onto itself in terms of both, ingenuity and fun.
The cast is tip-top and perfectly pitched, with a subtly underrated performance from Sam Riley as the a scuzzy, druggie who triggers the gunfight. All the characters are dressed in hyper-realistic wardrobe that allows the viewer to take in the stylized action in as a spectator watching a Roadrunner cartoon. Characters are wounded to big laughs, instead of heavy drama, or overdramatized death. Instead, a character is shot and screams “What was that? You fucking shot me!?” before returning fire, by the central point no one is left unscathed.
The laughs come as fast as the bullets fly. Surround sound goes a long way to give us some pretty hilarious moments where an off-camera character shouts obscenities at another. As the two groups of gussie-gunmen (and woman) crawl, shoot and dive their way around the warehouse, the sound design lends a hand in knowing where geographically each character is positioned. The brutality is constantly amped up leading from superficially getting winged to the more serious headshots or getting set on fire, the glistening violence is a perfect pairing for the stakes being raised through each moment of the film. With a case of money at the center of the room, these armed cage mice will become increasingly aggressive in order to reach the cheese.
This is a rare, perfect film. The way the action is treated is fantastic and a method we don’t see put to use enough. Since these are all bad guys it is fair to pick your favorite and hope they manage to be the one to get out of the building but in any case, you are in for a hell of a film. The amount of times, I was laughing out loud almost mirrored the number of bullets fired in the film and with a movie titled Free Fire one can only assume that is a ton of laughs. Free Fire holds itself high on my list of pulp crime films, it now takes its place among Reservoir dogs, Snatch and Pulp Fiction. Wheatley and crew have created a one of a kind experience that I can truly say is worth the time and money in order to experience it with a sold-out, loud theater.