A24 has been very successful over the last few years with their usually original and offbeat movies. Last year’s Swiss Army Man was a perfect example. Free Fire is their most recent film and, while there are a lot of creative and fun parts of the film, this one falls short of some of the highs of their other filmography.
That is not saying that Free Fire does not have its moments, because it is an enjoyable film in many ways. In fact, I am going end up giving this a fresh review, but it certainly did not reach the heights that the concept could have reached.
Inside a warehouse, there is an arms deal going down between two factions. The sellers, led by South African gunrunner Vernon (Sharlto Copely) and the buyers led by Frank (Michael Smiley). Each group had a ton of hired help on each side. However, two of the hired guns Stevo (Sam Riley) and Harry (Jack Raynor) had an altercation at the bar the night before bringing them into conflict with one another. Once bullets started to fly, nothing was going to stop the slaughter.
The cast of this film was tremendous, and was clearly a strength of Free Fire. Armie Hammer played Ord, my personal favorite character. Brie Larson was here, although honestly her character was woefully underwritten and lacking. Cillian Murphy played Chris, one of Frank’s men who was just trying to get Brie Larson’s character out of the line of fire. Copley was fantastic as well as the annoying Vernon.
There was actually a lot of humor in this film. It played more like a comedy than it did a thriller, despite all of the gunfire that was going on around these characters. There were several quips between the characters, and their interactions with one another really was the best part of the script.
Although I liked the original conflict between Stevo and Harry, it sure seemed to escalate quickly. Even after gunfire began, it seemed as if there were chances for someone to step forward and put an end to the violence. Instead, we just kept firing at one another. And firing at one another really badly. These people were terrible shots. Bullets either completely missed or only grazed people throughout the entire film.
This also made a lot of the fire fight scenes run together too much, and they ended up becoming kind of dull. Add to that the fact that they were shot with that shaky cam style that made it hard to tell what was happening, the gunfire was not the strongest part of the film. The thing was it was, by far, the largest part of the film.
Another problem with the film was that very few of these characters had much development about them. As I said earlier, the biggest offender of this was the Brie Larson character. There was a black guy named Martin (Baboo Ceesay) who I knew very little about as well. Stevo had a friend Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) that was basically played as a homosexual. Stevo was pretty one note as well, just being a mean-spirited ass. I will say though that Stevo’s fate was extremely satisfactory.
I really enjoyed Armie Hammer and his portrayal of this character. Ord was calm and cool through much of the film, giving out nicknames like he was Sawyer from LOST and seeming very competent among a group of amateurs.
There was a betrayal subplot where two other shooters showed up and we knew almost nothing about them or why they were there. The film does reveal that answer, but I am not sure if they ever specified the reason this pair of snipers had been hired.
In the end, I think the fun outweighed the negatives here as I am recommending Free Fire. I do wish the end result of this film had been more effective, but there is enough here to enjoy. I did not love this, but I did like it.