Monday, April 24, 2017

[Review] Free Fire

I'll start by saying I've pretty much loathed Ben Wheatley's last few films--the overstretched alt-horror of Sightseers, the sloggy A Field in England, and the thoroughly unappealing High-Rise. I figured, maybe I'm just not a fan Wheatley's style. Then along comes Free Fire. While it hasn't converted me to Wheatleyism, it's at least a relatively raucous caper of flying bullets and a gritty cesspool of scummy characters.

Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Jack Reynor and a few others play a bunch of low-level criminals of varying backgrounds, egos, and tempers. When the smarmy crew meets up for an arms deal, things go terribly wrong (to put it lightly).

With shades of Guy Richie, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese (who serves as executive producer here), the situation escalates and erupts in a nasty clash of mayhem. Equipped with scattered editing, countless BANGS, and quick, freewheeling dialogue--the script seems to be aiming for a record of most gunshots and F-bombs dropped during a single film. What's interesting about this pulpy flick is that it's essentially one big scene in one location. In other words, it's a really long shootout in an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse holds plenty of places to hide behind--almost acting like a makeshift paintball course, except the guns are deadly, and the floor is littered with asbestos and heroin needles.

Unfortunately, the relentless execution of the concept is also Free Fire's downfall. Once you've witnessed the first 20 minutes or so, you've pretty much seen the rest of the film. And while this thing is billed as a "biting critique of the insanity of gun violence", I think this happens to be a case where the film's press synopsis is giving the film more credit than what it actually conveys. And whether the critique is effective or not, the duration of this thing is still exhaustingly repetitive and it long overstays its welcome. And even though it's greatly acted all-around, we don't really care about the fates of any of these characters, aside from maybe Brie Larson's.

So, Free Fire is exactly like the situation it presents--messy, violent, prolonged, pointless, and sometimes sadistically amusing.

( 6/10 )

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