Matt Adcock reviews Free Fire (15), starring Cillian Murphy
From the twisted mind of Ben ‘High-Rise’ Wheatley comes a new action comedy thriller set in 1970s Boston. Featuring one of the longest and most intense fire-fights ever to grace the screen, Free Fire is a kind of British Reservoir Dogs, packing quips and character shifts along with death and carnage.
Meet wanna gangster hardmen Bernie (Enzo ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ Riley). Worse the wear from the night before, Stevo especially isn’t on top form but they are on duty for Frank (Michael ‘Black Mirror’ Smiley) and Chris (Cillian ‘Batman Begins’ Murphy) who are buying weapons for the unnamed Irish terrorist cause.
On the other side of the deal are the dangerous Ord (Armie ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Hammer) and arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto ‘District 9’ Copley) along with their thugs.
With itchy trigger fingers on both sides, distrust, unexpected prior bad blood between some of the muscle and some party crashers, things get very tense, very quickly.
Caught in the middle is Justine (Brie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Larson) who actually brokered the meeting in a nicely deserted warehouse for the two groups. Who can be trusted and who will survive when the bullets start to fly is anyone’s guess.
The warehouse itself is shot with all sorts of interesting lighting and the cinematography is dialled up to max with jump cuts that actually work rather than confusing the viewer about who is shooting who. The soundtrack is ace too both in terms of crackling gunfire and cool ‘70s music.
Free Fire is an absolute riot of gunplay, banter and double-crossing fun. The full-on shootout is magnificently handled with all characters getting moments to shine and the frantic action will live long in the memory. The carnage is broken up by lighthearted moments which add to the experience, like when one of gang shouts “I’ve forgotten which side I’m on” mid fight.
Wheatley is a superb director - it wouldn’t be unfair to call him a British Tarantino. Free Fire is another quality output and feels like the work of a filmmaker who is at the top of their game.
For a pure cinematic adrenalin rush of violence and fun, Free Fire hits the target, delivering a feel good flip on a classic crime tale.