Bullets whiz, whistle and rip with a darkly comic ferocity in Free Fire, the latest from little known but super talented English director Ben Wheatley.
Wheatley has quietly been establishing himself as a solid indie director of action and horror with obscure gems like Sightseers, High-Rise and A Field in England, along with one of the better installments in the horror anthology The ABCs of Death.
With Free Fire, Wheatley gets to employ his action-directing prowess along with sharp dialogue and snap acting. He’s working with his biggest cast yet that includes an Oscar winner in Brie Larson, along with Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sharlto Copley. The film is co-produced by Martin Scorsese, and the setup sounds like the sort of movie he should be making.
Two groups come together in a deserted Boston warehouse sometime in 1978. Things go awry, and the whole movie becomes one elongated shootout where everybody is taking bullets, and the losers will easily outnumber the winners. The movie is a blast, thanks in large part to Wheatley’s staging of the event, and the actors (especially Hammer) taking it to great heights. There’s some mystery involved in the payoff, but it’s secondary to the action, which is appropriately disorienting at times. I couldn’t always tell who was shooting who, but this works for the movie in adding to the chaos of the situation.
Throw in an extremely well placed John Denver song, and you have what amounts to a solid, eccentric step in the evolution of Wheatley, a white-hot director who is just getting started.