British director and writer Ben Wheatley is back with his new film Free Fire. Following on from his mildly disappointing outing in High Rise, we get a glimpse of the Ben Wheatley I love in this picture. Set in Boston in the year of 1978, a meeting between two gangs in a deserted warehouse turns into an ugly shootout and the result is brilliant. Simple on story and character development, Free Fire quickly shifts the gears from build-up to all-out war. The film doesn’t stutter as it’s quickly throws you into the mix of things and straight off the bat, you are choosing a side to root for.
Fronted by a brilliant cast full of variety, Free Fire is blessed with an amazing blend of talent on show that helps make the film better than what it should be. Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy to name a few, and already you would look at that cast and think “How on earth are these guys going to mix?” Weirdly, it works very well. Never in a million years would I have thought these actors would be in the same room together, but they all surprise me and give a good performance. The standout character though was Vernon played by Copley. I’ve been a big fan of him since his breakthrough in District 9, and in Free Fire he steals the show. He is the shining star and the beacon of comedy in the whole film. He has all the funniest scenes and laughs throughout. The stupidity and clumsiness of his character really made me grow fond of him from the get-go. Vernon almost reminded me of Marv from Home Alone, a character that you cannot hate but love to see get hurt, a lot!
The one thing I loved about Free Fire was how Ben Wheatley returned to doing what he does best. And that’s making enjoyably violent movies. I know that sounds terrible for saying that, but I honestly think he went out of his comfort zone by making High Rise. His best work in Kill List and I love his work when he writes the screenplay, too. Free Fire being one of them that he has written, and to me he is at his best when writing the screenplay and being behind the camera at the same time. His script for this was simple yet so effective. The premise is easy to understand, but it’s the events after the meetup that makes his screenplay clever. The constant movement from one character to another, with a shootout all happening at the same time is brilliant. Equally, to make you still feel connected to every single character without losing the edge on the action makes it all the better and puts Wheatley in a good light of a good screenwriter.
Even though I love films like these, I always get to the point in the film and think, “How are they going to end this?” Luckily, I didn’t get that feeling until very late in the film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get a stellar or memorable ending that the film truly deserves. Apart from that very small criticism, Free Fire is easily one of the better films of 2017. A barrel of laughs throughout the entirety of the film, Sharlto Copley gives yet another amazing performance and Wheatley gets back to what he does best and that is making great pieces of film. An incredibly easy watch and one I would like to think would never get old. 4 out of 5 stars.