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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.05.16] United Kingdom action comedy thriller

Ben Wheatley makes two types of movies: trippy mind bending ones and gleefully fun ones. Free Fire is of the later variety.

The concept here is straight forward: a group of NRA fighters arrange to buy some guns from a South African arms dealer. The deal is brokered through Justine and Ord, a pair of good looking folks far too pretty not to be together. Everyone meets at a warehouse to make the exchange and all seems to be running smoothly until one of the lackeys recognizes one of the other lackeys from the other side as a guy from a bar fight from the night before. The next thing you know there's an all out gun battle in progress. A gun fight that continues, mostly non-stop, for an hour.

Essentially, Free Fire is a really great concept for a short film expanded to 90 minutes and though it really shouldn't work, it somehow manages to be fun, even if the actual gun fighting gets boring after about 15 minutes.

The reason for Free Fire's success can mostly be attributed to the writing and great performances. Wheatley and his long time writing partner Amy Jump bring together an impressive collection of colourful characters and give each of them a unique and interesting personality and each actor takes that character to the next level. From the lackeys who start the entire fight (played by Jack Reynor and Sam Riley) to Sharlto Copley who is beyond ridiculous as Vernon, the well dressed and incessantly sexist South African, everyone has a well defined character with a history which is obviously well explored thought they're not necessarily shown on screen, those backgrounds really come across in small moments that color the final product.

Free Fire is effective not because of the extended gun fight which is peppered with hilarious exchanges but by the exchanges themselves and the characters with their spit fire volleys of insults and conversation. Wheatley and Jump know exactly when to infuse dialogue into the overly long action sequence to make it a little more bearable and thought I'm not totally in love with the movie, I can see why it's effective. Aside from the fact that the movie includes a ridiculous roster of talented actors, I really appreciate this exercise which feels very much like an experiment testing how long of an action sequence the psyche can handle.

Though I found the action mostly uninteresting after ten minutes, I still mostly enjoyed Free Fire largely because the writing is just so much fun and the actors are clearly having a great time with the snappy dialogue. I only wish it wasn't so long; it really loses steam after an hour.

Recommended Release: Sightseers

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JeffC (5 years ago) Reply

I haven't seen it but those are my thoughts exactly. His flicks are kind of hit or miss with me. Still think Kill List was the best.


Marina (5 years ago) Reply

I really didn't like Kill List but Down Terrace and Sightseers are faves of mine.

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