Free Fire (2016) Review

When an unlikely group of people are brought together in a black market arms deal, unforeseen coincidences set two gangs against each other in this action comedy.

 

Set entirely in a derelict umbrella warehouse in Boston during the 1970s, director Ben Wheatley has emulated Quintin Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ with the plot and setting mimicking the 1992 cult classic.

 

With a hilariously mismatched assortment of characters, Free Fire opens with lowlife junkies Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam Riley) meeting IRA men Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) who have employed their services in order to move the weapons the wish to procure.

 

Ord (Armie Hammer) and Justine (Brie Larson) act as intermediaries introducing the ragtag gang to the ill-assorted weapons dealing partnership of Martin (Babou Ceesay), an ex-black panther and Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a South African still firmly aligned with apartheid ideology shown in his dealings with his partner.

 

Just as agreement is reached and the weapons are in the process of being exchanged Martin and Vernon’s henchmen Gordon (Noah Taylor) and Harry (Jack Reynor), turn an unseen dispute the night before into the hilarious stalemate that characterises the rest of the film.

 

The hazard laden environment contributes to the confusion of this close quarter shootout, and whilst violence is the key element to the interaction between characters, it is not overtly gory until the finale.

 

Wheatley has created side splitting characters that remain lovable despite their seriously skewed moral compasses. The dialogue between those shooting at each other remains playful and upbeat regardless of the violent circumstances.

 

The movie is not without its face palm moments in which character dialogue is sloppy and unrealistic such as when IRA man Frank proudly remarks that he is from, “Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland.”

 

Throughout the film, camera angels mimic the cramped conditions each character is placed in, making the audience sympathise with the severity of danger that all parties are in. The vibrant colours and striking uniqueness of the cast’s clothing contrasts to the damp, grimy and depressing setting.

 

Wheatley’s ability to develop each individual makes it difficult for the audience to select one character they wish to leave the victor, and the continual movement between mayhem and reconciliation, leaves viewers on the edges of their seats.

 

A hilarious ode to high tension standoff’s featured in movies such as ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. Free Fire stands strong as an enthralling action comedy that captivates audience members despite the singularity of its setting.

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