Free Fire (2017)
dir. Ben Wheatley
written by: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
starring: Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Noah Taylor, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti
An afternoon shootout between SPD and some 7/11 robbers rocked Seattle, as it’s not particularly crime prone. An increase in income inequality, shortages of affordable housing, a homeless population already at epidemic levels, and continued tensions between police and the public make none of this surprising, but it does highlight the influence of firearms rampant in American society. Sheer power handed to an untrustworthy source, civilian or government mandated or terrorist, is a recipe for destruction. But let’s take a look at the satire.
Physical comedy thrives in Ben Wheatley’s direction of Free Fire, his nonstop violent followup to last year’s not-so-wholesome (but great) High-Rise. Co-written with frequent collaborator Amy Jump (High-Rise, Sightseers), an arms deal derails when an honor killing breaks out between supply and demand. Populated by a sleazy mess of the worst of mankind’s hubris, Brie Larson grounds the firefight, deconstructing the toxic masculinity rife in that abandoned factory.
Aside from a shaky introduction, excusable for the rapid development of ten eccentric characters, the 90-minute explosion of a movie offers bursts of hilarity that usually takes a beat to settle. Hired by Chris (Cillian Murphy, the most calm of the men; but still foolhardy), Justin, played by Larson, runs through the worst people possible. Encountering an abusive junkie (Sam Riley, despicable role, good performance), a narcissistic businessman (Armie Hammer is unbearably charming. Call Me By Your Name needs to get here). Sharlto Copley is best when playing man-child, and Justine babying him showed a delightful Room-grown-up scenario where Ma is simply exasperated by Jack. While the men fire randomly into the ping-pong ether, both sides are trying to figure out how to get out alive, as nobody’s too concerned with where their bullet flies. Survival, and maybe survival with a little bit of loot, seem far fetched, but this company does not have much foresight.
Fun, witty, and with a killer sound design that offered half the jokes, Free Fire is leans you right into the violence. All the worst comes out toward the end, and the flaws inherent in prideful beings hit their mark, much like the best use of John Denver in history. Take a puff, grip a movie companion, and watch the blood bath. Just remember, “[They] can’t all be nice girls.”
As for the gun control satire, that’s less prevalent. Maybe the message is UNLESS THERE ARE LIKELY TO BE BEARS, JUST LEAVE THE DAMN GUNS AT HOME EVERYBODY! Y’ALL CAN’T BE TRUSTED!