Walking into a cinema screening without knowing anything is a great experience. It makes sure you don’t have any expectations to what you are about to see. You are purely reacting to the thing which is presented to you and it’s not always easy to predict the direction the story will go. That’s the case for me with Free Fire. The poster wasn’t very special, but the reason why I wanted to see it were the names of the actors: Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Brie Larson. I had no idea that the film was directed by Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Sightseers, Kill List). Was this movie a pleasant surprise to me?
It’s 1978 and in Boston two groups of criminals have decides to meet up at an abandoned warehouse/factory. One group has brought a big bag of money, the other lots of powerful weapons to sell. Vernon (Sharlto Copley) is the slick weapons dealer who tries to close a lucrative deal while Ord (Armie Hammer) is the one who has brought the two groups together and is there to make sure the deal is clean, without any issues. That turns out to be not as easy when both camps have some very unpredictable men which quickly changes the deal into a fire fight where you’ll have no idea what will happen next.
As I was watching the film I wasn’t expecting the whole film to be one big firefight, which it turned out to be. That makes it a movie set in one location, which can work if the story grabs your attention, the action is great and new elements are introduced to make sure the tension stays and make everything unpredictable. Wheatley also tries this, but only partly succeeds. As the film progresses you slowly start to lose the overview about what is going on, where everyone is located and whether or not they are still alive. It has some humour and the movie has its moments, but once the credits start rolling you wonder who you were supposed to be rooting for and why it had to be so long. I later read about people comparing it to Reservoir Dogs, but I wouldn’t dare to compare them. It simply isn’t special enough to leave a lasting impression.