Ben Wheatley’s 2016 film, Free Fire is a black comedy action film and an energetic piece of high-octane cinematic acid jazz. It’s a tightly scripted, smartly executed, perfectly cast actioner that’s as witty as it is violent. This is Wheatley’s most entertaining flick yet, an assured piece that skips along from beginning to end. Free Fire is the type of film that will have fans talking about it for years to come. This is a movie that’s 95% action – and the amazing aspect is that it never gets boring! It probably shouldn’t work but it certainly does.
This 1970s film keeps things simple: an arms deal between a collection of ne’er-do-well turns to shit and devolves into a serious shoot-out. On one side we have an Irish gang (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley) and their connection (Brie Larson) and on the other a crazed South African (Sharlto Copley) and his crew (Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor, Enzo Cilenti and Babou Ceesay) along with charismatic Ord (Armie Hammer).
Free Fire just kicks it in every area. The performances are pitch perfect with everyone getting the moment to shine. Murphy, Smiley, Copley and Larson are all wonderful, but the stand-out is Armie Hammer – the man is a revelation (I finally know why George Miller cast him as Batman in his ill-fated Justice League movie). The script by Wheatley and Amy Starke sizzles and the editing by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is as tight as it could possibly get.
In lesser hands, Free Fire would have been a disaster, a poor man’s Tarantino knock-off, filtered through Michael Bay’s action excess but Ben Wheatley nails it like a piece of cheap plywood. All I can say is that you need to see Free Fire. Sit back, dig into some popcorn and enjoy.