Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cinescape Magazine Movie Review- Free Fire

sharlto copley, armie hammer, brie larson,
Sharlto Copley ruffles some feathers in, Free Fire

"Fuck the small talk. Let's buy some guns, eh?"

Setting a film in a single location can be more difficult than it seems. Compare it to real life; When going from place to place, you can keep the action going by changing the scenery and continually having new things to see. But if you're in a single location, (with the exception of a really good book) you're gonna need some better than average stimulus to keep you from eventually crawling the walls. Movies are the same way. If the characters in John Carpenter's The Thing, John Hughes's The Breakfast Club, or Kevin Smith's Clerks, had been anything less than intriguing, you wouldn't have bothered to stick around for their conclusions. You might end up not even caring at all (Devil). And sometimes, the premise alone is enough to keep you glued to your seat for at least ninety minutes (The Mist, Quarantine, Paranormal Activity). Either way, if a film stays stuck in one place, it better be a great place to be.

Free Fire

With the exception of a few minutes spent outside, Free Fire is set entirely inside of a warehouse. It's worked before with another little independent film called Reservoir Dogs. The difference there though, is that that film took the time to introduce you to the players. This one does not. That's fine from a comedic standpoint, yet it hurts the overall impact when all of the gun powder settles. Thankfully, this film's little flaw makes way for ninety minutes of action packed hilarity. Hell, so little is known about any of these guys (and gal), that everyone could just as soon go by the title of "These Guys", and none of us would bat an eyelash. In all honesty, not caring for a single person in Free Fire, makes it a whole lot easier to laugh when a butt cheek catches the occasional bullet, or when the Spy vs Spy individual battles ends in one player being heavily injured, and their foe as a bloody carcass. Something that I hardly ever notice but noticed here, is Free Fire's exceptional sound effects editing. The non-stop shoot'em up action scenes come across more powerfully, when the stereo sounds of gun shots, ricochets, and sarcastic remarks, tickles your senses and puts you right in the middle of the mayhem. The costumes of many 1970's styles, looks apropos to the era and even cooler when they're torn to shreds from the action. The huge warehouse location has so many different angles and spots, that every shot looks opened up for all to see. There's a little claustrophobia here and there, but never for too long.

Every single character in Free Fire with more than one or two lines of dialogue, has their own distinct personality whether it be sophisticated, tough, or downright trashy. Although Sharlto Copley (Hardcore Henry) gets the top billing, Brie Larson (Kong: Skull Island) is the film's focal point as the gun deal's mediator. And just like everybody else, she's a complete mystery. There's no real "getting to know" these guys, save for a few slow moments of banter before all hell breaks loose. Armie Hammer (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 2015) is fun to watch as the film's cool cat, who loves to aggravate his fellow deal makers without a second thought. The confusion during the engaging as hell gunfights, makes the players as well as the audience question who's on who's side for more than one instance. It's even more fun when Copley's talking his famous loud mouth shit the entire time. The violence and occasional gore gets to be a bit rough at times, however the film's fantastic sense of humor makes them easier to stomach.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Free Fire

The Good- Martin's (Babou Ceesay, Rogue One) extraordinary last stand, the long crawl for the phone, and Harry's (Jack Reynor, Transformers: Age of Extinction) 2 MPH donuts in the van.

The Bad- There was something going on between Larson and Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) that was never fully touched on. That would've been nice to see.

The Ugly- You know what's worse than a simple deal going to shit because of a couple of hot-headed idiots? Having to suffer through multiple John Denver songs while that simple deal goes to shit because of a couple of hot-headed idiots, that's how!

Final Thoughts

With so little substance yet so much engagement, Free Fire is an excellent showcase for English writer/director/editor Ben Wheatley (High Rise) to bring to the States. The only dragging going on in this film, is the sight of the so many leg-shot people crawling after each other while shooting and cursing. It's a fun and immersive time to be had by all. Please support low budget gems like this and get to the theater before it's gone all too quickly.
Rating- 7 out of 10

Free Fire (2016)

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

Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Amy Jump (screenplay), Ben Wheatley (screenplay)
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer 

R | 1h 30min | Action, Crime, Thriller | 21 April 2017 (USA)


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