Ben Wheatley’s latest cinematic offering, Free Fire is a seventies-set film set in Boston and is about a group of people, chief among them being Chris (Cillian Murphy), buying a vanload of weapons from dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley). Soon though, a member of Vernon’s crew recognises one of Chris’ associates, not taking kindly to his presence and, despite efforts to keep the peace, guns start blazing as everyone tries to kill each other.
The film opens very well as we are introduced to many colourful, interesting characters who are brought to life admirably by the likes of Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Michael Smiley, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor and Jack Raynor. In particular, Sharlto Copley is loads of fun, getting to deliver all the best lines in that unmistakable South African accent and looking as though he’s genuinely having a blast. Also, Sing Street‘s Jack Raynor is noticeably energetic, crazy and fun and Armie Hammer throws himself into his role very well, delivering the zingers with that very pleasant voice of his.
It is admirable that even though there are quite a few characters, introduced within a relatively short amount of time, we essentially know what they’re all about, each one having their own unique personality; the actors portraying them have plenty of charisma and panache and there is genuine banter aplenty. Plus, the seventies clothing and hair is wonderful and is a joy to behold.
So the film gets off to an promising start but perhaps weirdly, it all goes downhill as soon as they start shooting.
I guess that I was expecting something a bit more frantic, a bit more crazy, as the trailer suggested, but instead there is a distinct lack of energy during the big shootout as all the characters seem to do is lie on the floor, fire single shots into walls (because they’re all TERRIBLE shots, only hitting someone 10% of the time) and it eventually gets to the point where everyone just crawls around on the floor veeeeery slowly, occasionally shouting some obscenities and getting shot in the arm or leg. Granted, a few characters do spout a few quips and there are some good plot developments that keep the interest up but the film suffers from a gruelling, slow pace as the action regrettably drags on and the film becomes rather boring.
As I said, I expected a fast, frantic, whirlwind of carnage but there was a disappointing lack of energy and despite its efficient opening, things soon fizzle out and the film gets quite dull, too slow for its own good.
Elsewhere, the film is edited well by Wheatley and collaborator/wife Amy Jump, its direction is fine and the story is simple and effective, even though the shootout element (which is the whole point of the film) is stretched out to its maximum.
Oh and next to Kong: Skull Island, this is the second Brie Larson film this year that features CCR’s “Run Through the Jungle”.