DVD Review: Free Fire

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Ben Wheatley | CAST: Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017 | PRICE: DVD $12.96, Blu-ray $17.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurette
SPECS: R | 90 min. | Action crime comedy | 2.39:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | Spanish and English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video

A non-stop action orgy of bullets, dead bodies and tough guy (and gal) posturing Free Fire is the latest from British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (High Rise).

Borrowing—or saluting, depending on how you want to look at it—the elements that made Walter Hill (The Assignment) such a revered director in action circles, Wheatley delivers the goods in terms of carnage and style, but adds little context or characterization to the proceedings—something, not so ironically, that Hill has been called out on throughout his career.

The setting is a Massachusetts warehouse in the 1970s where IRA operatives Chris (Cillian Murphy, Anthropoid) and Frank (Michael Smiley, The Lobster) meet a South African arms dealer (Sharlto Copley, Chappie) to purchase a huge cache of arms. The middle-people in the transaction are the feisty Justine (Brie Larson, Room) and Ord (a surprisingly hairy Army Hammer, J. Edgar) as another middle-person. The deal goes awry, however, when tempers flare between various members of both factions leading to a bloody shootout that lasts three quarters of the film.

The film’s verbal sparring is Tarantino-esque, the violence choreographed in a way Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs) would approve, and the acting by way of the script is big on, again, macho posturing.  But any hope for political insights—this does involve the IRA, after all– or subtlety is thrown out of the window from the get-go, delivering visceral kicks and little else during its 90 minute running time.

Free Fire netted a less than enthusiastic under $2 million at the box-office this year, but it’s pretty much assured a much stronger response among the action crowd in ancillary markets.

Buy or Rent Free Fire

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.