If you loved The Hateful Eight (2015) this will be your cup of tea.
Free Fire, directed by Ben Wheatley, is an artistically unique film that will bore many viewers to death. It is a Tarentino-type film that is collapsing at the box office. Let me just say that you definitely need to avoid it if you are accompanied by a companion who will threaten to stick an ice pick through your ear if he or she gets bored.
Put another way, while I don’t know if I really liked it, I do admit to being rather fascinated. It has a great group of actors who have taken the time to dance on the edge of cinematic normalcy, and I had to appreciate their intensity as well as their courage.
To begin with, the entire film takes place in a warehouse. I’m not kidding…I do mean the ENTIRE film. Justine, played by the Oscar winner Brie Larson, arranges a meeting between some Irish militants seeking to buy weapons and their would be suppliers. In the process, things go completely wrong when a third party appears seemingly out of nowhere, and the last two-thirds of the film amounts to one gigantic gun battle.
What is so blasted appealing about the film is that every character who doesn’t get killed gets shot multiple times. While a couple of the guys take the time to either smoke heroin or marijuana, their basic goal is to kill or be killed.
I’ve got to admit that what makes Free Fire hold your attention is a script that involves both satire and anguish. One bunch wants a van load of guns while the other wants their money, and they are constantly engaged in an exchange that leaves you occasionally laughing as most of them absorb multiple gunshot wounds.
In any event, Ms. Larson is compelling as the broker of the exchange who knows more than what she is telling. She won’t win an Oscar for this role, but her performance is a reminder of why she added so much to the success of the recent Kong: Skull Island.
Then you have Cillian Murphy, who plays one of the Irishmen seeking to purchase the weapons. I have been a big fan of his for a long time, and I can only encourage you to see him in Inception (2010), his performance in the Batman films that originated in 2005, his fascinating roles in Sunshine (2007), The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2007), Breakfast on Pluto (2005) and 28 Days Later (2003). On top of that, I can’t wait to see him in Dunkirk, which will hit the theater in several months.
Next there is Armie Hammer, who plays one of the guys supplying the weapons. I truly think he is a fine actor waiting for recognition, so just think about his contributions in largely overlooked films like Nocturnal Animals, The Birth of a Nation (2016), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and The Lone Ranger (2013) On the other hand, his best performance to date is seen in The Social Network (2010).
Let me finish by noting the expectedly wonderful performance of Sharlto Copley, here playing Mr. Hammer’s partner. Mr. Copley has great style and presence, and you need to do yourself a favor and ignore his roles in The Hollars (2016), Hardcore Henry (2016) and Chappie (2015) and hunt him down in Elysium (2013) and the spectacular District Nine (2009).
In a sense, this film reminds me a great deal of the remarkable little film entitled Green Room (2015). It also was a violent movie that pushed the audience to the outside of the cinematic envelope, and both films are a reminder of why artistic creativity does not necessarily equate to the customary definition of entertainment.