Free Fire


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Free Fire
Release Date:
31st March 2017
91 min
MPAA Rating:
Ben Wheatley
Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p


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


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 0%
IMDb Rating 7.2


Brie Larson as Justine
Cillian Murphy as Chris
Enzo Cilenti as Bernie
Michael Smiley as Frank
Sam Riley as Stevo

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bob-the-movie-man 6th April, 2017

A movie with more than a whiff of cordite about it.

As I write this, I'm really struggling to evaluate whether the latest film of Ben Wheatley ("High Rise") is a masterpiece or just pulp trash. It's certainly a brave and highly distinctive venture, with that you can't argue. Set in Boston in 1978, an arms deal is going down in a deserted warehouse. Brokered by Justine (Brie Larson, "Room") an IRA team headed by Frank (Michael Smiley, "The World's End") with his business guy Chris (Cillian Murphy, "Inception", "Batman Begins") are on the buying side. As 'roadies' they've brought with them a couple of crack- head friends Stevo (Sam Riley, "Brighton Rock", "Maleficent") and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti, "The Martian") who are far from stable. On the selling side is South African dealer and "international a-hole" Vern (Sharlto Copley, "Elysium"), his suave and wisecracking protector Ord (Arnie Hammer, "The Man From Uncle") and Vern's right hand man Martin (Babou Ceesay, "Eye in the Sky"). What connects all of these individuals is that no-one likes or trusts anyone else. Unfortunately, one of Vern's van drivers is John Denver-lover Harry (the excellent Jack Treynor, "Sing Street") who has very recent personal history with Stevo. The fuse is lit, and when the two meet chaos ensues: in the words of Anchorman's Ron Burgundy, "That escalated quickly"! And, for a 90 minute film, that's basically it. If you think after viewing the trailer "there must be more to the film than this".... you're wrong! However, what there is of it is enormously entertaining. Played ostensibly for laughs, with very very black humour and an F-word and a gunshot in every other sentence, some of the characters – notably those played by Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer and Brie Larson – have some hilarious dialogue. The star turn for me though was Jack Treynor who was just so impressive as the 'lost at sea' brother in the delightful "Sing Street" and here delivers a stand-out performance as another brother on a mission... this time a mission of vengeance. You are waiting throughout the film for the inevitable showdown between Harry and Stevo - - and when it comes it is both bloody and memorable. A cracking 70' soundtrack, put together by the Portishead duo of Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, involves 70's classics by Credence Clearwater Revival, John Denver and The Real Kids and it's hammered out at top volume over the action. The downside of this effect is that - for my old ears at least - it sometimes make some of the dialogue hard to follow. As a policing exercise, the film clearly has merit. In the same manner as Schwarzenegger's "Running Man" put criminals in an arena to cull them, so this must have reduced the crime rates in both Boston and Belfast no end! While some may not approve of the levels of violence on show, it is all done in a highly cartoonish way: like a "Tom and Jerry" cartoon, or "Home Alone", everyone seems to get shot multiple times and yet (in the main) is still active and mobile. All of this makes criticism of the performances something of a waste of time, but I would comment that some of the acting is of the "over the top" variety: surprisingly, I found some of Oscar winner Brie Larson's scenes falling into this category and snapping me out of the narrative at times. But overall, my evaluation is now done and I am rooting on the side of it being a brash and exhilarating minor masterpiece. Yes, it's one- dimensional. Yes, it is virtually impossible to feel any empathy with any of the characters, as they are all universally loathsome. But it's a movie whose flaws are forgivable based on the characterisation and the cracking good script by long-term collaborators Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump. Tight as it is within its 90 minute running time, I doubt you will be bored. (For the graphical version of this review, please visit bob-the-movie- Thanks).

Reviewed by mike_sharples 28th March, 2017

An absolute blast from start to finish.

Free Fire is an absolute laugh riot from start to finish and some of the most fun I've had at the cinema in... ever. The pace is established from the get go as once we are introduced to the characters things goes haywire almost immediately. As the film continues some character motivations are made clearer which may lead one to question who's side anyone is actually on, as it turns out, they're all in it for themselves. Whereas some are left in the dark to let the audience ponder at their own freewill. Shooting starts due to past events that resurface after two gang members come face to face leaving a road of destruction in their wake. Featuring some of the best sound design I've heard so far this year Wheatley gives his audience a sense of space within the confined environment in which I feel he purposely neglects in his visual representations. The action on screen is messy and convoluted to a point that fits the narrative of what comes to be every man for himself. It's impossible to determine who is where and therefore who's side anybody is actually on. At first I found this to be a problem when watching but giving it some afterthought I came to realise what Ben was aiming for. Using direction of sound to determine each players position on the board. It's quite an ambitious directing choice but I believe Wheatley more than pays off. I've had this argument among friends and those I converse with in Facebook groups and it's about how you don't need your characters to be richly detailed and well developed to make them interesting or memorable. The film in question was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The argument which was presented to me is that of - you know they're all going to die anyway so spending time developing characters would hurt the pace of the film. It's a film used to bridge the gaps between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. And that's fine but the writing still has to be good enough to make those characters stand out regardless of their outcome. This is a film that understands this completely and something Ben Wheatley and wife/co-writer Amy Jump seem to have the most control in. I've had my reservations about Armie Hammer for while but Free Fire once again goes to show that anyone can give a good performance when they have the right script behind them. By far the strongest element to this film is the chemistry all of our actors have and the distinct personality each and every person uniquely has, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor, and Sam Riley especially and the pairing of Armie and Michael Smiley make for some quite hilarious back and forth one liners. Having such life in their performances and such fluidity in the screenplay is what make so congenial. Marvel could learn a thing or two when it comes to using jokes in your action scenes. In the end, Free Fire is a thrilling, hilarious, action packed ball of insanity that is not without it's flaws, mostly with Brie Larson's character as I feel she was kind of sidelined without much to do, she was certainly left too much in the shadows, I would have liked to see more of her. Of course the moments she had on screen were definitely benefiting. But my willingness to look past them as they're not too major is my sheer enjoyment of the movies denouement which had me smiling from ear to ear so much that my jaw started hurting. So far the only Ben Wheatley film that I've actually enjoyed, I hope he can keep a hot streak alive.

Reviewed by Stootomlin 16th March, 2017

A wonderful example of a guilty pleasure movie

I watched this at a Cineworld Unlimited showing. Before it played, there was a little intro from Ben Wheatley the director. He described the movie as a fun action film, with lots of violence and lots of swearing, and that it was mercifully short. I'm not sure I can characterise it much better than that. So I'm not going to try. When I saw the trailers for this film, I turned to my wife and said "I really hope this whole film is contained in the one room, if they do that, then it will have to stand and fall on the script, the characters and the acting, rather than just rely on some special effects and the action". I am pleased to report, I got my wish. The setup is simple. We're in 1978, a group of Irish men (presumably IRA) are trying to buy guns in American, Boston to be precise, so they ship them back to Ireland, and use them to shoot the British. The 'brains' of the outfit are Chris and Frank played by Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley respectively. The (and I'm using this next word in the loosest possible way) 'muscle' (but in all fairness, they certainly don't seem to have any brains) are Stevo and Bernie. On the other side, we have the sellers, headed up by Vern, played by Sharlto Copley, and Ord played by Armie Hammer. Both parties seem to have been brought together by the only woman in the film, Justine played by Brie Larson. So, we have a briefcase full of cash, and a van full of guns, all we have to do is swap one for the other. What could go wrong? Let's just say that there is a disagreement over someone's actions, and things quickly spiral out of control. I'm not going to get into details, because to be honest, there aren't very many, and if you've read any of my other reviews I don't like to spoil. We can just say that bullets start flying, left, right and centre, and we have a film. The films hangs on the humour of the situation. The one liners, the insanely inappropriate comments, the wonderful character interactions. The exchanges between Frank and Ord are wonderful. Vern is hilarious, and his reactions to Chris chatting up Justine are a great running joke. It really will make you giggle, often at things you'd wish didn't make you laugh. Watching people get shot shouldn't be funny, but in this context, it just is. This is the ultimate Mexican standoff. Luckily none of the characters have a particularly good aim, so the ridiculousness lasts exactly 90 minutes, and that feels just about right. There is only so much chaos, bursts of gunfire interlinked with witty banter that an audience can take. This isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a wonderful example of a guilty pleasure movie. Lots of action, lots of jokes, and a little more intrigue then you originally expect. Oh, didn't I say it doesn't play out quite as simply as you'd assume? No? Well it doesn't, it actually keeps you on your toes, that is when you're not rolling around on the floor. Remember to listen carefully, because some of the best jokes come in the middle of gunshots, or are said in a ridiculously over the top South African accent. Well worth 90 minutes of anyone's time.

Reviewed by StoneColdSober 6th December, 2016

Exhilarating Mexican stand-off between characters whose aim is worse than that of the stormtroopers

The first three shots from the rifles echoed throughout the cinema hall, startling everyone on our seats. It was loud. Very loud. A raw sound you don't hear daily, carving its spot behind your eye sockets, making you momentarily close your eyes. Just when the echo died out, another burst of 10 shots followed before we could prepare ourselves for it. It was deafening, exhilarating and it made us starve for more. And the film provided. At first, keeping track of who was in the right for shooting and who was not, was easy. But the more the characters shot at each other, the worse the situation got and the motives got blurred. Even one of the characters reflected on this in the middle of the film with: "I forgot whose side I'm on!". This intentional chaos is seasoned with occasional black humour and witty exchanges between the characters, which provides comic relief and some time for the viewers to take a breath between the showers of bullets. "Free Fire" is a 90 minutes long Mexican stand-off between characters whose aim is worse than that of the "Star Wars"' Stormtroopers. However, if all of them had great aim, the film would be over in less than 10 minutes. With its prolonged, intense action, the film makes sure we got what we paid for. Guilty pleasure in watching cheap entertainment.

Reviewed by GODZILLA_Alpha_Predator 9th September, 2016

One hell of a bang at TIFF

Boston, 1973. Members of the IRA and an arms dealer come to an abandoned warehouse to make a deal to buy some machine guns. Everything is supposed to go smoothly until one member from the one group draws out a gun and shoots the other because of a previous incident. And all hell breaks. Ben Wheatley's previous film, High Rise, I was not a fan of. High Rise felt too disturbing with heavy-handed messaging while lacking a coherent plot. Free Fire is by far a major improvement with hilarious dialogue, fun and well-written characters and non-stop action. I saw the movie at TIFF today and was pleasantly surprised. Wheatley turns this empty warehouse into a war zone with each of these character taking cover behind various objects and firing blindly. Unlike a lot of generic action movies where characters seem to magically dodge bullets, no one is safe and everyone eventually gets scraped or hit by bullets. This leads to some fun sequences of characters crawling on the ground to get from one cover to the next. Surprisingly the two standouts are Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer. Both were surprisingly funny in subtle ways. Sharlto Copley once again plays another weird but yet still hilarious and fun character. I also give strong shout-outs to Sam Riley and Jack Reynor. And Brie Larson is bad-ass as she holds her own weight against her male co- stars. If I can say one negative it's that this isn't a movie with a lot of depth. It's not flat but don't expect this to be too much of a complex film. It is just simply about the these 2 trigger-happy groups trying either to kill or survive. It is more of a black comedy/thriller. Free Fire is definitely one of the most fun and exciting action movies you will see so it is definitely worth a shot to watch once it releases in theatres.