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Free Fire (2017)

Free Fire PosterFree Fire is a low scale crime-comedy-drama from Ben Wheatley who is probably best known for High Rise (2015) though I know him more from the black comedy Sightseers (2012).

The premise is simple, a deal for guns goes wrong and the film follows the immediate fall out. The action takes place mostly in an old warehouse where the deal is struck between the Irish and South African led others. The warehouse itself is mostly open with some barriers between the groups, often in the form of pillars or bags of what appear to be rubble. The set certainly has the look of an old and disused dock area.

The cast is a varied ensemble Sharlto Copley taking the role of Vernon and playing the unlikable but funny South African. His performance is brilliant getting most of the laughs from his selfish drive and self preservation. Almost as great is the suit that Copley is sporting, a brilliant 70s number with wide lapels and in a colour so obnoxious it probably deserves a credit of its own.

Counter to Copley is Brie Larson (“Justine”) who seemed to have set up the deal, Armie Hammer (“Ord”) who fills the role of middleman and Cillian Murphy (“Chris”) who is the muscle for the Irish. While these three are good in the roles, the dry wit of Hammer being a fantastic foil to Copley, they do seem to never quite have the force required to wrestle a scene away from Copley. That is in no way to suggest these are weak performances and the interplay between the characters help fill in the relationships and goals without them having to be explicitly told to the audience through dialogue.

On a weaker note the action was chaotic and difficult to follow. On my return from the cinema it did cross my mind that this could be done deliberately to mirror the confusion created from the maelstrom of bullets whizzing around, but as an audience member watching, it was difficult to keep track of all the characters in the location. This is disappointing as the set was so large, maybe some more wide shots to help keep track. As the film progressed this confusion diffused somewhat as multiple shots allowed the positions to become clearer but at the start, confusion reigned.  

The film introduces the main characters quickly but there are also several further characters whom are not given sufficient time to really fix themselves in the film before the first obstacle is introduced and while some of them are fleshed out further, it is not before there was some confusion over who was who and what they’re drives were.

Moving onto the music though, from “Annie’s Song” by John Denver through to the original score the soundtrack helped fix the film in the 70’s and keep it there. Free-style jazz coming in helped add to the baffled-action and kept the tension going as scenes progressed.

It may not get a wide release nor a long one, niche films like this do not often get a long run at large multiplex cinemas, often they will be shown more respect at local independent establishments. If you get the chance though go see it. The dialogue is witty and the humour both dark and slapstick. It is definitely one to catch.
 

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