Film Review: Free Fire

With a sprinkle of gunpowder and a fresh approach, Ben Wheatley drags us down a dark rabbit hole of 1970’s gunfire…

Free Fire (Photo: StudioCanal UK/A24 USA)


When a gang of multi-national criminals meet up in a warehouse to purchase arms, a minor disagreement turns into a full-on shootout between the two parties making the transaction with devastating, hilarious consequences.


When frequenting the cinema, you tend to yearn for a degree of escapism. A film that not only holds your attention, but compels you to invest in the narrative as well as the incredible characters being presented upon the screen. Fresh on the back of his success with High-Rise, and working with screen greats like Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans, British director Ben Wheatley is back with his latest foray into the action genre.

Free Fire, is an action-packed period drama set in the late seventies and finds a colourful array of criminals engaging in an arms purchase. Boasting a stellar cast that includes of Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer and Cillian Murphy, the premise of the movie is simple…shoot everybody! The screenplay of the movie may seem somewhat simplistic to the outside perspective but what director Ben Wheatley does brilliantly is immerse the viewer into a truly colourful world that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Attempting to fill a 90-minute run time with, what is essentially a VERY long shoot-out, is a daunting prospect but the director does so in fantastical fashion. From the onset of the movies opening sequence we are introduced to a handful of characters that are as colourful as they menacing, but they manage to project their incredible personalities with enough impetus to draw us in. The mixture of personalities and cultures works to great effect here and Free Fire feels like a modern international movie, but set in the seventies!

The deal makers converge

Brie Larson is quickly established as the facilitator for the arms deal that finds two parties converging on a disused and derelict warehouse adjoining the Boston waterfront. Cillian Murphy’s Irish crew are in town to purchase an array of M16 assault rifles from arms dealer Sharlto Copley who is the most eccentric war profiteer of all time. Armie Hammer acts as the insurance policy, in it for the financial gain promised to him for his services and is drawn into the conflict between the parties, sparked by an event in the hours prior to the exchange.

Sharlto Copley’s eccentric arms dealer Vernon is sublime

What follows is a hilariously long, comedic gunfight where all parties turn on one another in quick succession and attempt and kill each another in the most colourful of ways. You would think, that in a movie billed as a gritty comedy that the gunshots would be toned down, but you’d be dead wrong. The gunshots in Free Fire are as painful as they are visceral and every character suffers in the aftermath of each penetration, the result being a cast that finds themselves crawling amongst the muck and debris of the warehouse to simply just survive.

Survival is a mucky business in Free Fire

In summary, Free Fire is a witty, tongue in cheek comedy which happens to boast the strangest gun-battle ever filmed. The action is fantastically grounded, reliant on good old fashioned direction that endorses great acting and we are treated to that in abundance. The best performance by any stretch comes from Sharlto Copley who portrays his character with commendable gusto and brightens the screen whenever involved. Both Brie Larson and Armie Hammer appear to be having fun with these roles and that translates into their performances and completing the ensemble is Cillian Murphy who is as impeccable as always.

Brie Larson fights for her life

To say Free Fire will be an instant classic would be imprudent. In fact, I doubt many of us will remember it in ten years’ time, but in a period where every movie is either a franchise, reboot or Fifty Shades of milking revenue, Free Fire is an honest, fun, action packed and witty comedic drama deserving of your attention for its slender running time…check it out for yourself.

Free Fire was introduced as the closing film to the 2016 BFI Features London Film Festival and is set for general UK release on 31st March and in the United States on 21 April 2017


Overall Score 7/10

If you enjoyed this article, please recommend it by hitting the green heart so that more people can see it on medium. We really appreciate it!

Want more from CineNation?

Subscribe, Like, and Follow us on iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, & Flipboard!