Hard-working director Ben Wheatley also made High-Rise (the best film of 2015) but came out to the general public in 2016, but Free Fire which similarly I first saw in 2016 but didn’t come out to the public till 2017, is a radically different film. The first act of the film is about a 1978 IRA gun deal in Boston that quickly goes wrong. The entire film that follows is essentially a 90-minute shootout within a warehouse.
Wheatley is a director who has the ability to do action, drama and comedy (as seen in High-Rise), but Free Fire is more comedic. There are lots of really great actors, starting with Sam Riley as one of the buffoons trying to be arms dealers, who kicks off the conflict. Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson and many more make up an excellent ensemble cast. They are joined by a few actors, like Michael Smiley, who are almost always in Wheatley’s films.
If you wanted to be really pretentious, you could say Free Fire is Wheatley’s The Exterminating Angel. A group of people cannot leave a location, and it becomes increasingly absurd. All of the characters are ridiculous, with Armie Hammer especially hilarious in his role as the biggest twat from one of the gangs, who is trying to facilitate the deal. Sharlto Copley gives Hammer a run for his money as a South African gang member who is equally absurd.
The main reason Wheatley set it in the 1970s was to ensure that there were no mobile phones in the film. Obviously, this would have ruined the whole precept. All of the action takes place in a single night.
The film looks great. It’s a very contained piece, shot back to back with his other project the same year. The performances and the excellent script by Wheatley and his wife Amy Jump make it great fun—an action film with hilarious dialogue. If it was any longer than its 90 minutes it would not be so perfectly paced.
The disc includes a commentary featuring Wheatley and some of the cast, a making-of featurette, and two more interviews: one with Wheatley, and one with Murphy and Smiley. Wheatley is one of the very few British directors with any vision: his last four films have really shown him to be one of the very few great filmmakers currently working. Bring on his next film, Freakshift, which is about women with shotguns fighting giant crabs! It should be shooting any day now.