Take a trip back to the 80’s

Take a trip back to the 80’s
Take a trip back to the 80’s

Free Fire

Starring: Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy

Directed by: Ben Wheatley

Rated: R


This movie is a trip—back in time, that is, to the ‘80s. The premise is simple: two separate groups are meeting up at an abandoned warehouse under the cover of darkness to transact a weapons deal only it does not go as planned.

 It’s never specified why this is set in the way back time period. Perhaps because the person buying the 6 cases of M-16s is affiliated with the IRA. His name is Chris (Cillian Murphy) and he’s brought along his friend, Justine (Brie Larson) who is helping him navigate the tricky terrain of dealing with skittish arms dealers. With all the cash and guns that are flashed around in the first few minutes you know this is bound to go south before you can say, “ammo.”

 The arms dealer is a dapper smart-mouthed South African named Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his right hand is Martin (Babou Ceesay) who’s sole job is to count the money and hold on to the briefcase of cash as the guns are unloaded from one van to another. The middle man is Ord (Armie Hammer), another dapper dresser with a wicked sense of humor who has brought the parties together but appears to have no loyalty to either.

 Things get off to a rough start when Vernon insults Chris, more than once. But, he lets it go until he discovers that Vernon plans to sell him some other kind of semi-automatic weapon—not an M-16, but close enough. They manage to get past this too, but by this time relations are definitely strained.

 And, then it all goes bad—very bad. In an instant, guns are drawn, someone fires a shot and everyone starts diving for cover. Director Ben Wheatley is obviously inspired here by two auteurs of violent black humor—Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. These directors have all but defined this genre and Wheatley pays them quite an homage. And from the sounds of the guns being fired there’s one more director that has influenced Wheatley because I haven’t heard sound editing like this since George Stevens directed “Shane” in 1953. No less than 13 people worked on the sound for this movie.

 Bullets fly from a myriad of weapons for the last hour of the movie. By this time the 8 or 9 people present have either died from their wounds or have taken a non-lethal bullet or two, it’s hard to remember why it even all started and that’s the point.

 Wheatley injects a lot of humor into the proceedings and even in the midst of the gun battle, the jokes are flying too. This is one of those movies that I caution is not for everyone. It wasn’t designed to be mainstream, but the similarities to Tarantino and Ritchie are certainly obvious and Wheatley may have a future alongside them as the triumvirate of mayhem.

 Something about setting this is the ‘80s gives it a funky vibe that seems to go with the costumes and the action—and even the hair do’s. Wheatley pumps up the jam with a top 10 of ‘80s hits that seem to act as a narrative to the story. It’s a little tongue in cheek inside humor that works very well.