Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
In typical 70s film fashion, Free Fire opens with an aerial scan of the city below. Curvaceous, bold letters displayed nearly every cast member and some of the crew. This got very old, long, and kept the pace slow. Two men waiting in an alley… (Sounds like a bad joke, it was). Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) meet up with Justine (Brie Larson), Chris (Cillian Murphy), and Frances (Michael Smiley) for a shady gun buy with Ord (Armie Hammer), Vernon (Sharlto Copley), Martin (Babou Ceesay), Gordon (Noah Taylor), and Harry (Jack Reynor, how did they turn this hottie into a slob?). Great cast, right? Well, great casts alone do not a great film make. The dialogue and plot points must harness and ride with that talent. Inundated with morons and piss-poor shooting for a calamitous combination, Free Fire leaves the audience either shaking their heads or bowing over laughing. Between the mumbling of lines and poor volume control, I missed bits of the dialogue for sure. It is as if they were aiming to repeat what Tarantino did with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, but they were not clever enough. Complete with wondrous never-ending bullet supplies and a villain’s miraculous ability to stave off death repeatedly aka “movie magic,” Free Fire simply does not make much sense. Could a person, shot in their right arm, fire a weapon (even automatic rifles) with their right hand?
Murphy is one of my favorite actors. He is handsome, talented, and his Irish accent gets me every time. From films like 28 Days Later, Batman Begins series, Inception, In Time, and Anthropoid to the TV series Peaky Blinders. His range is expansive and he presents a strong presence in any production. Diminished by the overload of ignorance, are Murphy’s skills in Free Fire. Yet another hottie is Hammer (though it is masked in this film, practically everyone is covered with hair) who has a killer deep voice to go with his commanding demeanor. I first enjoyed Hammer in The Social Network as the dashing Winklevoss twins, but he successfully kept the momentum going with J. Edgar and The Birth of a Nation.
Adding much stupid humor to the story is Sharlto Copley who has evoked love, hate, and pure annoyance in me in various films and portrayals, i.e., District 9 and Maleficent. Rounding out the cast is Larson (there are more main roles, but I cannot list them all, would you read a book?). I have only seen Larson in The Gambler prior to Free Fire and loved her sass. Additionally, I heard great things of her performance in Room (yes, I will see it eventually). Although, in Free Fire, I was not impressed. It could have been writing though.
Free Fire is a peculiar little film. You walk out wondering if you liked the film or was it just annoying. At 88 minutes, you wonder if that was still too much. Honestly, it would have played better as a short. John Denver was an interesting choice for the soundtrack. His music fit only part of the time with the plot. In addition, the score did not consistently fit the shooting sequences either. The music sounded as though it was a build to good climax, but the action did not substantiate this. For a film that shoots (camera and gun, ha) everyone crawling on the ground for practically the entire length, a few good laughs (for me, the majority of the audience was in an uproar of hilarity) were experienced. Hammer had most of them, dialogue and delivery wise.
RIDICULOUS PULP FICTION!
Janet L. White
Your friendly straightforward neighborhood critic