Rob Reviews "Free Fire"
The concept of “mindless entertainment” is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it is OK to just relax and watch bullets fly, trash to be talked, blood to be splattered, and stuff to explode. Granted, it CAN be done horribly wrong, but when done well, a film can be one of those that rises above Guilty Pleasure status and becomes one of those that one can watch over and over again.
With “Free Fire,” “High-Rise” director Ben Wheatley takes his crack at the “Guy Flick” genre as he assembles the cast of Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copely, Jack Reynor, and others to spend some time in the late ‘70s as a group of people involved in an arms deal that goes a bit awry. Maybe “a bit” is an understatement; it’s more like “stuff gets really real, really quick”.
With a script that takes place almost entirely in one warehouse, “Free Fire” gets the chance to spend its time concentrating on its story and less on location scouting, and that is a good thing. This is by no means a test in one’s claustrophobia cinematically because the way the warehouse is set up is reminiscent of the Gauntlet round of “American Gladiators” back in the day: lots of places to hide, but also lots of places where the characters are just exposed enough to get exploited. This seems to be fully intentional by Wheatley, as he reportedly designed the set in Minecraft before going into production.
The other cool thing here is that with this kind of script, actors have a tendency to let the bullets take center stage while they kind of just get through it, but that is totally not the case with “Free Fire”. With this cast, they really do appear to have fun with the script and roll with their characters (literally, in some cases). The dialogue is very witty and although the multiple accents can get muddy when overlapped from time to time, it in no way took away from my enjoyment of everything that was going on. There is so much humor in this film that I know for a fact that I missed a few great lines from laughing along with the rest of the crowd in the screening that I attended.
In a nutshell, here is what you need to expect going into “Free Fire”: it is about ninety-minutes of the last twenty-minutes of “Reservoir Dogs,” and that is a very good thing. (Spoiler alert from the latter film: there are no ears getting removed in “Free Fire”.) As the summer movie season rapidly approaches, this is a film that will help usher in all of the slam-bang, ‘stuff’s-gonna-splode blockbusters that it plays herald for. And remember, friends: it’s OK sometimes to just leave your brain at the door and enjoy a film for what it is. And oh, what “Free Fire” is.