Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.
I bet Quentin Tarantino never imagined he’d be one of the most imitated and influential filmmakers in Hollywood. While I’m personally not a fan, I still remember going to see “Reservoir Dogs” in Dublin when it first came out back in 1992 and to this day, it is still my personal favorite out of all his movies. Why this film worked so well and is still being emulated to this very day, is because Tarantino took a solitary setting (a warehouse) and set most of his story’s action in it, a big gamble, especially for a first-time filmmaker because keeping your entire movie in one place, can get boring pretty quickly but the director kept it flowing with fresh and witty dialogue, unpredictable characters, and enough twists to shake a stick at. Ben Wheatley, the director of “Free Fire,” makes no apologies for the fact that he stole Tarantino’s premise and set his entire story in a warehouse, and just like the auteur before him, he has infused his creation with humorous and comical banter, spoken by a plethora of intriguing characters, who may or may not be who they appear to be.
In this day and age of two and three-hour epics bombarding our movie screens on an almost weekly basis, it makes for a very refreshing change of pace that “Free Fire” clocks in at a very brisk 90 minutes. The film spends no time getting right down to the action. Set in Boston in 1978, Justine (Brie Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer) have arranged a meeting at a remote warehouse location between a group of Irish terrorists who are looking to buy some M-16s, and the men who will supply them with their merchandise. Customary repartee ensues, as both sides make it known that they mean serious business but when Chris (Cillian Murphy) realizes that the weapons are not what they ordered, tensions begin to mount. At Vernon’s (Sharlto Copley) request, Chris and his colleague Frank (Michael Smiley) try out the guns and they are pleased enough with them. As they are about to make the exchange of money for weapons, one of Vernon’s henchmen, Harry (Jack Reynor), realizes that one of Chris’s guys, Bernie (Enzo Cilenti), is the same guy he beat up the night before for sexually assaulting his cousin. A big fight commences and both sides manage to calm each of their men down but just as they are about to make the deal, Harry shoots Bernie in the shoulder and all hell breaks loose.
The story is pretty straightforward, with each person in the warehouse getting shot and winding up on the floor, having to crawl their way around the building. And just when it appears that things couldn’t get worse, two uninvited gunmen open fire on everyone, forcing each group to blame the other. With the briefcase of money lying out in the open, every time someone tries to get near it, they get shot again, and each person, as the story progresses, winds up with more and more bullet holes in their body, none life-threatening, just very painful and uncomfortable. As the movie sprints towards its dynamic finale, bodies begin to hit the floor, and only then, as each character falls off the radar, do we begin to realize who is behind the whole setup. But even then, one last unexpected twist puts a thorn in their side!
The film never lets up, continuously moving forward, forcing you to scrutinize each character and their surroundings, and what their possible motive could be but at the end of it all, you realize that you’re over-analyzing everything and just need to sit back, enjoy, and let the story unravel naturally. The dialogue is constantly hilarious, with each character getting individual moments to shine throughout and like my earlier declaration about shooting a movie in one locale, you never have to worry about getting bored here because there’s never any time. While everybody may be grounded, literally and figuratively, the story never subsides and persists in entertaining. Everyone onscreen delivers terrific performances and are unquestionably having fun and I suggest you do the same thing.
In theaters Friday, April 21st