I absolutely loved this film. I went in knowing very little, only that it was directed by Ben Wheatley and that it was about what happens after an already tense arms deal goes wrong. Being a fan of High Rise and a fan of action films generally, I had an inkling that I was at least going to enjoy the film.
I wasn’t wrong. I would say that a lot of people might expect a lot more from an action film than what is delivered. If what you expect is a fast paced plot of ever changing exotic locations, with a glamorous hero, involved in mostly unrealistic fight scenes, then I highly recommend you just wait for the next Bond film.
Free Fire is a stripped back action film, constrained to mostly one location, with no specific protagonist for you to get behind and root for, involving a cast of distinctive characters in a shootout, who all react fairly realistically to getting shot. It is a fun film of well developed characters shooting a lot of bullets at each other, but Wheatley has captured the nitty-gritty intimate moments of human beings trying to kill each other in a pressured environment that none of them had expected.
The brilliance of the film comes from the intimate dialogue between some of the characters who obviously care for the well-being of those they are with, which contrasts fantastically well with characters who have an alliance based on the fact they are there with their employer.
The dialogue is sharp and human driven, with humour scattered, almost with a nervous adrenaline fueled energy, here or there, appropriate for the moments when characters are trying to decrease the intensity of the situation in order to survive. Kudos to Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley for such a brilliant script.
Generally approaching books and films from the perspective of a writer I do like seeing decent character development, an interesting plot, and in addition with an action film a bit of action. With Free Fire I got all of this, and it delivered very much because the ‘less is more’ approach produced a fantastic film.
I never thought I would enjoy a stripped back action film. I am very much a fan of action films akin to franchises like Bond, but Free Fire is a refreshing approach to the the much loved genre that now makes traditional action films look a bit silly really.