“Free Fire”

It’s not easy directing violence in a humorous tone. Certain directors do it well, but I didn’t expect Ben Wheatley (last year’s pretentious and underwhelming “High-Rise”) to be one of them. “Free Fire” is a fun action comedy.

IRA members Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) meet the eccentric arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley) to buy M-16’s in a warehouse. Ord (Armie Hammer) and Justine (Brie Larson) are business representatives on opposite sides trying to maintain peace. Things go south when Vernon sells Chris the wrong weapons and Frank’s Stevo brother-in-law (Sam Riley) instigates a shootout. Then it’s 70 minutes of shooting.

“Free Fire” is a 90-minute-long film. The first 20 minutes is the arms deal while the remaining 70 is a loud, frenetic gunfight. It’s a battle royale scenario combined with slapstick humor. Everyone gets shot at least once, but there are some morbid sequences involving a van, a needle, gasoline, and a crowbar that make “Free Fire” innovative.

I’m not a fan of Wheatley’s previous films, but he pays great attention to detail in his directing. The soundtrack and clothes show his love of the 70’s and the minimize set is an authentic depiction of a sleazy warehouse. Wheatley first created his set playing “Minecraft” and it shows, given all the props and set designs.

The cast members are all great. Copley combines his charisma with some great physical humor, Hammer is cool and deadpan, and Larson is an unconventional femme fatale. She’s just doing her job and wants to get out alive. That doesn’t mean she’s afraid to shoot a couple people in the face, though.

There could have been some more time to explore each character, but Wheatley gives us enough time getting to know the characters during the shootouts. They get stoned, straighten their hair, insult each other, and tell stories while shooting at each other. That’s enough to satisfy me.

Grade: B+

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