Saturday, April 29, 2017

Free Fire - Movie Review

The Movie: Free Fire

The Director: Ben Wheatley

The Cast: Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor

The Story: Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

The Review:
The first time I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew it had a lot of potential. Director Ben Wheatley fills the movie with a retro 70's vibe that still feels very fresh and relevant in today's marketplace. There are tons of influences from Tarantino to Travolta and it all works perfectly. The action, and pretty much the entire movie for that matter, is contained to one solitary space which is an abandoned, run down warehouse yet the story still feels much bigger which is mostly thanks to cinematographer Laurie Rose. Being stuck in a grimy, indoor space definitely offered some serious challenges, but Rose takes advantage of every inch of space, every beam of light, and every angle he could possibly come up and the end result is one of the more creatively filmed shoot em up films around.

This film also owes a huge debt to casting director Shaheen Baig (The Impossible) who has put together a really fun and distinct mix of actors who perfectly embody the style and wit that the film is trying to achieve. Each character has an implied back story which really helps to flesh out their distinct personalities and makes the story a lot more textured than your basic shoot em up type of film. Armie Hammer is especially good as he channels Roger Moore's iconic take on James Bond, complete with every ounce of style and swagger, for his character who is a sort of moderator of the weapons deal. I would almost say he is the highlight of the movie, but of course, we also get to see Sharlto Copley in one of his typically deranged and highly entertaining performances.

Brie Larson serves as a grounded center to all of the craziness although her character, who is a sort of quality control aspect of the weapons deal, is just as knee deep into the action as anyone else. For the most part, she could be seen as the hero among criminals except you never really know who is on whose side and no one is really doing the right thing or standing on any sort of high moral ground which also makes things that much more interesting and entertaining as the story unfolds. There is no lesson to be learned from this tale, except maybe don't play with guns, and the characters are not role models in any way, shape, or form so its less a struggle of good versus evil and more of a fight for survival between people who are ultimately out for themselves above anything else.

The Verdict:
Free Fire is a highly entertaining action comedy that is smart, fast paced, and full of surprises. Imagine Reservoir Dogs with less talking and more shooting. Unfortunately, this movie will fly under the radar versus some of its more high profile competitors, but it is definitely one you will want to see.

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