2017. Written and directed by Ben Wheatley.
By Brian Wallinger
This throwback to 1970's exploitation films features an idea that's so wildly far out, one would think it came from right out of a comic book. The film takes place entirely through the course of one night at an undisclosed location in 1970's Los Angeles when several international arms dealers all find themselves in the cross fire during a gun deal gone bad. What follows is a 90 minute stand off that unfolds to an almost predictable conclusion.
The characters themselves are vibrant and yet defined by flaws that make them unique., despite the cast being unbalanced. Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, and Armie Hammer, offer up the highlights, while the rest of the characters tend to stray and become somewhat forgettable. Overall though, the exchanges between the criminals more or less work given the generic source material.
It is on the technical level where the film truly shines. The sound effects and realistic gun play are where the film finds its merit. The framing does a great job at showcasing fluorescent lighting while the editing adds to the style of the film respectfully.
One of Free Fire's best surprises is the uncertainty and how Wheatley manipulates comedic timing in such a way that the viewer is able to easily suspend logic and just go with the bullet laden flow. The film doesn't try to be anything more than what it is, and it doesn't have to either because Wheatley's conviction to the simple premise is what pushes it over the line of mediocrity.
The third act I admit, feels rushed and unfinished, though it did have a truly great gag involving a John Denver reference. In the end, this Scorsese/A24 production proves that A24 studios will be, (if it isn't already) one of the most consistent and successful studios in the industry. Even if Free Fire isn't as truly great as it could have been, it's still very good and maintains a satisfying progression. So far one of the more memorable films of this year.