It was a few months ago when I saw the trailer for Free Fire, a film from the creative mind of Ben Wheatley, who is known for such films as High Rise and…that’s about it. A film that seemed to have been held back forever due to the financial troubles of their distribution partners. The trailer gave me high hopes for the film as it sold itself as an action-comedy of a gun deal gone wrong. Sadly this movie is about as funny as actually getting shot and has less ‘action’ than the Lego Movie. No way around it, this movie is about as disappointing as grounding into an inning-ending double play with the based loaded.
Free Fire begins in 1970s Boston as an arms purchase is going down between members of the IRA and a shady South African seller in an abandoned warehouse. Right, when the deal is about to get closed, a confrontation between a junkie and one of the rival seller cause tensions to boil over and the situation becomes every man for himself free for all where the only rule is…um…survive? No…um…money? I guess. I think…yeah, let’s go with that.
Where to begin with this? I didn’t want to hate this film. Hell, I even liked it for about 15 minutes. The weight of the problems here is there isn’t much of a plot, the premise is solely a gun purchase that goes terribly wrong and someone thought they could stretch this to a 90-minute film. The 1st act is driven by dialogue and carried by the personalities of the characters on-screen. The actors honestly try their best to work with the little their characters are given. It’s a pretty good set up, but the second people started shooting each other, the film completely falls apart and coming from me, when the action is the worst part about the movie, you know mistakes were made. The characters shoot at each other like Stormtroopers, hitting each other in the shoulder with an accuracy of about 8%. The rest of the film after this is people crawling around a dirty AIDS needle infested warehouse while trying to shoot each other and that’s it, there is nothing more the film has to offer.
The way this film completely loses the viewer is outstanding, I even noticed two people walk out of the movie even before I had officially given up on it. After a while, the film just becomes pointless, they give you no one to root for because they all are assholes even the chick. Their inability to shoot what’s in front of them gets really old really fast considering that is the meat and potatoes of this film. What the film believes to be witty, humorous dialogue as the characters squabbling behind the cover of knee-high walls isn’t such at all. I feel like film wanted to embrace its own absurdity, but that only works if the audience embraces it with you. The fact that this movie is only 90 minutes and feels about 45 minutes too long is a crime in itself.
Free Fire fancies itself as a Tarantino-like film, but the film manages to fail to match every aspect of filmmaking that made Tarantino a success. If it wasn’t for a decent opening, I would rate this film much worse, as it is Free Fire is one of the worst examples of wasted potential in some time.