Review: Free Fire (2016)

Stars: Sharlto CopleyArmie HammerCillian MurphyBrie LarsonMichael Smiley.

Director: Ben Wheatley.

The plot:

The plot for Free Fire is not the most complicated. It’s the late seventies; Frank and Chris are in Boston to buy some guns to take back to Ireland. Justine has set up a meet with Vernon and Martin.  After getting past the fact the type of guns brought to the party were not what was ordered, the two groups fall out in spectacular fashion when it seems one of each group have had a previous altercation the night before and spot each other at the trade.  This leads to all sorts of exchanges both verbal and violent.

The cast:

After High-Rise, Ben Wheatley is no stranger to what could be described as an ensemble cast.  Leading the group of arms dealers is Sharlto Copley’s Vernon.  As ever Copley is an absolute hoot, it’s never dull when he’s involved.  Overseeing proceedings, to keep both groups in check and failing miserably is Ord played by Armie Hammer .  A big guy, an authority figure full of charm and packing a punch to match it.  Despite his best endeavours to keep things civil he finds himself embroiled in the dispute.  Another great bit of casting here, placing Hammer in this role.  Heading up the Irish contingent is Cillian Murphy as Chris.  In contrast to the now very well known Tommy Shelby role in Peaky Blinders, Murphy plays a more roguish laid back character but it’s a no less accomplished performance nevertheless.

Confusions and Connections

Michael Smiley plays Chris’s partner Frank, a more paranoid and ill at ease individual than Chris.  Smiley is one of those actors I feel is really underrated.  Seen quite frequently in British productions as far back as the cult comedy Spaced, he always puts in a solid shift and I feel is worthy of more key roles than he actually gets.  Finally Brie Larson plays Justine, the sole female in amongst the havoc.  I wasn’t all that impressed with her in Kong: Skull Island but here she shows a little more of her abilities, she gives Justine that sassy edge and also a traditional female with attitude and wit who can clearly look after herself.  There’s also more than worthy support from the rest of the cast including Noah Taylor, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti and an appearance by Patrick Bergin.


The film:

I’ve long been a fan of Ben Wheatley and I’m glad to say this falls in with the more impressive of his offerings alongside High-Rise and Sightseers. Free Fire is not as dark as those movies but it is a very funny film.  Where Sightseers was a dark comedy, Free Fire is more a slapstick version of Reservoir Dogs in its theme (Set in a warehouse, everyone is disagreeing with each other and then shooting at each other).  There is some genuine laugh out loud moments particularly around the central period of the film.  It keeps you hooked into what’s going on in a very simple manner, if there’s no dialogue then there’s shooting or violence of one form or another to hold your focus.  It segues between these two key elements very cleverly and smoothly.  The trailer for this film doesn’t sell it very well I would have to agree with a friend’s comment about this fact but I felt the trailer is really out of context with the rest of the film and it would be difficult to make the trailer without actually spoiling the film itself.

The verdict:

4/5 Stars: Free Fire shoots and scores.

Free Fire on IMDb


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