Free Fire Screen 63 of 17 reviews

Free Fire

2016

Free Fire Poster
  • The ‘70s-set plot involves an arms deal in an abandoned warehouse gone horribly wrong, but the particulars aren’t especially important. What _is_ important is that Wheatley takes just about every Die Hard-style action movie trope to its furthest limit. Remember the scenes of John McClane dragging his bloodied torso around the Nakatomi Plaza? Well, pretty much every character spends most of the movie doing that, except in far more excruciating detail.

  • Mr. Wheatley’s “High-Rise” was a highlight of 2016, and again he shows that he’s a technically virtuosic director whose humor has a bracingly nasty side. He’s also no dummy. “Free Fire” is an action movie finely tuned to even the most potentially vicious audiences’ tolerances. It is filled with mayhem, but avoids grisly violence — at least until the finale pulls out some gory, and not inapt, punch lines.

  • It’s an invigorating work, mainly because Wheatley never once draws attention to his own exemplary craftsmanship. It’s perhaps his least stylised film, but also his most fun. Co-written with regular partner in crime and elusive cine-spectre, Amy Jump, the film trades in a salty Boston vernacular and a mean line in mic-drop putdowns.

  • Both Free Fire and High-Rise make much more sense knowing that he shot the pair back-to-back. If High-Rise was (arguably to its detriment) convoluted, sprawling and ambitious, Free Fire forms the other side of the coin: plotless, digestible and squarely within Wheatley’s comfort zone – which is precisely why it works.

  • Only someone like Wheatley could have made a film where humour stems from a chaotic shootout in 2016. His determination to go all the way into both nihilism and (eventually) gore makes his position on gun violence very clear, and does so with a simple yet effective sense of humour.

  • To describe Ben Wheatley’s latest picture as a blast doesn’t even come close to capturing the film’s adrenalised assault on the senses. The arms deal gone beyond bad premise paves the way for a sustained and unrelenting blitzkrieg of action. It takes a model similar to that of Gareth Evans’ Indonesian blood bath, The Raid, but, rather than knives, the characters parry stabs of wryly comic dialogue.

  • Retaining the professional sheen and big-name actors [of High-Rise], Free Fire stands as a lateral move that recovers some of Wheatley’s characteristic manic freshness, via a single action set piece drawn out into a languorous lesson in cinematic violence.

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    Sight & Sound: Tony Rayns
    March 03, 2017 | April 2017 Issue (pp. 66-67)

    The film is a rather virtuosic directorial performance, engrossing for its filmmaking smarts rather than any 'human truths' or moral mazes it might contain. Its impact as a psychedelic mind-scramble may be fairly slight compared with earlier Wheatleys, but its arrival in the burgeoning filimography returns attention to the bigger question about the options open to a mainstream-ish British director in the Marvel era.

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    Cinema Scope: Julien Allen
    December 20, 2016 | Issue 69

    The details may seem superficial and not wholly salvatory when deployed in the service of neither a substantial story nor an impactful spectacle, but there is enough evident ingenuity at work here to elevate Free Fire above the common run of cheap genre capers... Without veering into pastiche or mockery, Wheatley relies upon audience recognition of the essential artifice (and silliness) of this kind of cinema and greedily indulges in it, inviting us to pull up a chair and tuck in.

  • Though Wheatley and partner Amy Jump’s script is smart to send up American gun culture and masculine braggadocio without being too cheeky about it—most of the couple dozen shootings come about due to misunderstandings and bad attitudes—there isn’t much more to chew on beyond the rich setting, which makes the rare bum notes like Larson’s overused side-eye especially obvious. But none of that takes away from either the film’s craftsmanship or its geniality.

  • This feels like a step backward for a director whose work has confounded and surprised more often than not. This is a relatively short feature that still feels too long, because once you realize that there's only one way that most of these relationships can resolve—with one party or the other dying of gunshot wounds—there isn't much for the viewer to do besides wait out the final credits and hope for some tasty character bits along the way.

  • Ultimately, its bro-driven comedy and narrative absurdity come across as derivative and misogynistic. If the festival started out with a strong, positive message about burgeoning talent, a new focus on diversity in screen culture, and the celebration of an historical triumph of the oppressed, then it ended with a bland, careless shrug.

  • Nasty, brutish and not short enough, Free Fire has a simple — and ultimately simpleminded — premise: to protract what would normally be a brief shoot-out scene to the majority of the movie’s 90-minute running time. On the surface, this reductio ad absurdum has a kind of pleasing Conceptual-art clarity; Free Fire’s animating idea could serve as the prompt for a performance piece, one that’s all climax, no denouement. But Wheatley’s gallows humor has flimsy scaffolding: Only the spectators hang.

  • Ben Wheatley’s latest imagines a movie shoot not as the biggest toy train set a boy ever had, but as the hugest laser-tag arena... Wheatley is in his mid-forties, and there is a sense here that he is putting himself into the ring with the presiding pop film spirits of his undergraduate years—Tarantino and John Woo and the “gun-fu” of Woo’s Hong Kong acolytes. Who could have imagined 25 years ago that this sort of thing could come to feel so deathly tired?

  • Suggesting a feature-length adaptation of Reservoir Dogs‘s finale, Free Fire is like so many mid-‘90s Tarantino knockoffs, all self-consciously witty dialogue meant to paper over gratuitous violence with a veneer of nonchalance and a gimmicky setup.

  • The dominant tone is cacophony... Who’s really been asking for this journey back to 1992? Free Fire is more often reminiscent of the cash-in Tarantino-esque titles that invaded video stores after Pulp Fiction, time capsules like 2 Days in the Valley, City of Industry, or 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, rather than being a new or exciting thing of its own. A wallow in aggro unpleasantness and dated irony, the film plays like Wheatley’s big middle finger to viewers.

  • A smug knockoff of Quentin Tarantino’s brand of ironic violence, at several degenerations’ remove... The director, Ben Wheatley (who wrote the script with Amy Jump), revels in the gory breakdown of bodies and the mental derangement that goes with it. The linchpin of the story is an off-screen act of violence against a woman, but Wheatley never lets social or international politics impinge on his empty amusements.

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