FREE FIRE is a ballet of bullets [SXSW Review]
Is 2017 the year of action movies? If the likes of Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde and Free Fire have anything to say about it, bullets and fists will rule over spaceships and capes this summer.
Benjamin Wheatley’s Free Fire shot off more than 6000 rounds in its quest to deliver something refreshingly original for audiences tired of sequels, reboots and visual effects-laden blockbusters. In fact, Free Fire is entirely absent of that baggage, playing in a singular space, with hilarious banter and practical effects.
It’s about two sides to a weapons deal, set in 1970s Boston. The first side is made up of Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley). They’re Irish gun buyers, most likely IRA terrorists. The leader, Chris, has eyes for Justine (Brie Larson), who as far as we can tell, is an independent contractor assisting Ord (Armie Hammer) to facilitate this arms deal. Ord partners the Irish with Vernon’s (Sharlto Copley) crew. He has the guns. Neither side is very bright and an old beef leads to a breakdown in negotiations. The guns start firing.
There’s plenty to love about these performances, but its Sharlto Copley who delivers the best performance. He leans heavily on a squeaky octave of his South African accent and sports the film’s best (and they’re all great) 70s-era suit. But what Wheatley has created in Free Fire is nothing short of a ballet of bullets. Working within the confines of one warehouse setting, the film is an incredible showcase in maintaining continuity and compounding grit and grime. Wheatley admits he shot the movie in direct accordance with the story’s timeline. The results equal hilarious back-and-forth word sniping and gun battle, and a build-up of dirt on these distressed characters that’s unlike anything put to screen before. It reminds the audience of Tarantino, but is uniquely Wheatley.
Below are images from the SXSW red carpet premiere of Free Fire.