Distinguished British director Ben Wheatley returns to the screen loaded with a stellar cast and his uniquely insightful directorial vision.
Free Fire is an action comedy set purely in an abandoned factory and centres around a weapons deal which, as expected, doesn’t go quite to plan. The cast boasts the likes of Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson and Michael Smiley.
The film is, as described by Wheatley himself, “mercifully short”. Despite the length of the film, the countless missed shots and banging of guns becomes monotonous.
In Wheatley’s defence, he said, “That is the reality of gun fire. Hollywood would lead us to believe every shot is pinpoint accurate, have you ever fired a gun? Not the case!”
From an editing perspective, Free Fire is a master class. The continuity, pacing, framing and use of sound are extraordinary. Interestingly, when Wheatley was asked how he planned the setting and movement of characters, he simply replied, “Minecraft.” He wasn’t joking either.
There is an extremely fragile boundary when action and comedy are combined. So many times it has gone wrong and films quickly become an unbearable cheesy cringe-fest – just look at Kong:Skull Island. According to the hysterical audience at the cinema, the movie nailed the combination. Each character has their own unique sense of humour and the acting and timing of lines is phenomenal. The star of the show is genuinely hilarious. Even when the camera is not on him, you can hear him in the background ranting away.
The film is simple in structure and shallow in depth but it is a lot of fun. That is its most outstanding asset. It is not up there with Wheatley’s best work and it does feel rather safe for such a leftfield director.
It also unfortunately comes into immediate comparison with Tarantino’s greats Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight because of the nature of the film but Free Fire is definitive of short and sweet.