Free Fire is the new film from Ben Wheatley, the man behind Kill List, A Field in England, and High Rise. It is executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and stars a hugely talented ensemble cast, including Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, and Sharlto Copley. The film tells the story of a gun deal that goes wrong and devolves into a chaotic and brutal shootout.
Inspired by a real life shootout he read about that showed the completely chaotic nature of what a gunfight would actually be like, Free Fire is an idea that Wheatley has had for a long time, but only came together recently. The way that the shootout comes together in such an unusual way for Hollywood film, where two of the smaller characters end up high jacking the deal and sending the film off the rails. This fits with Wheatley’s attempts to make a more realistic type of action film, and less one that fits with the clichés of films.
And the entire cast is fantastic. Larson, Murphy, Hammer, and Copley are obviously the big names in the cast, but the performances from Jack Raynor, Michael Smiley, and particularly Sam Riley stand up just as well amongst all the stars. All of the characters feel distinct and individual, and almost every member of the cast gets their moment to stand out.
The film is absolutely hilarious. This might be Wheatley’s most out and out funny project to date. Whilst a film like Sightseers may have been a very darkly funny, Free Fire uses comedy very well to punctuate the breaks in the action. The interplay between the characters is hilarious and where most of the laughs come from, and there is also a lot of great comedy to be derived from the complete chaos that ensues.
Given that the film is essentially a 90 minute shootout it could have quickly become stale and repetitive. However Wheatley does his best to ensure that it feels varied. He isn’t completely successful as it is almost impossible to make an hour and half of a gun fight constantly feeling new, but it never ruins the enjoyment of the film.
Free Fire may be Ben Wheatley’s most commercially viable film, and is one of the best action comedies in recent years as it works hard to avoid many of the Hollywood clichés. This is a film that will very much appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino’s early work and is the perfect film to watch with a crowd at the cinema.