All guns. No control.
Ben Wheatley comes out guns blazing for Free Fire, a darkly comic, ferociously bonkers action thriller about an arms deal that goes appallingly wrong.
The setting is a deserted warehouse in 1970s Boston. IRA men Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley are here to buy a stash of guns from South African gunrunner Sharlto Copley via local intermediaries Armie Hammer and Brie Larson. But the transaction erupts into violent mayhem and soon bullets are flying every which way. As these are gangs that can’t shoot straight, they rarely hit their targets. But with so much ammunition being sprayed around it is just a matter of time before everyone gets nicked, or maimed or worse.
Ostentatiously plotless, Free Fire is both a reverent genre exercise and a cheeky parody that borrows from Peckinpah and steals from Tarantino. The warehouse standoff is pure Reservoir Dogs. And so is the cheesy listening soundtrack, with John Denver used for ironic effect where Tarantino used Stealers Wheel. For sure, the characters tend to the cartoonish. And Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump largely deny them backstories. But they do give them some very snappy putdowns and insults.
Strip away the sound and the fury and Free Fire is very much a B-movie. But is a stylish, smart and wildly entertaining one.
Certificate 15. Runtime 91 mins. Director Ben Wheatley
Free Fire available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from StudioCanal.