60th BFI London Film Festival | Sunday 16th October: Pick of the Day – Free Fire

Free Fire Starring Brie Larson Cillian Murphy Armie Hammer

LFF favourite Ben Wheatley closes this year’s festival with this 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.

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.

The characters tend to the cartoonish, but while Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump largely deny them backstories, 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.

Free Fire is showing this evening at the Odeon Leicester Square at 7pm and also at the Embandkment Garden Cinema at 8pm.