This year’s LFF was rounded off perfectly with another BS favourite, Ben Wheatley. Last year’s High Rise was a hit with us, despite some varying critical views so Wheatley’s latest Free Fire was a no brainer. Set in the 1970’s, this one sees a group of Irish paramilitaries led by Michael Smily’s Frank buying some guns from a particularly dodgy South African arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley). Obviously this being Wheatley, things very quickly spiral out of control.
So, to this trigger-happy mix, we get thrown in last night’s participants in a bar fight, some very mysterious snipers who appear not to be on either side and generally a bunch of people who really shouldn’t be spending too much time in each other’s company. Once the first shot is fired, it’s open season and everyone is soon crawling around the warehouse either attempting to escape, or more likely, swipe the case full of cash lying in the middle.
From the offset here, Wheatley is clearly having an absolute ball here. This is a comedy first, last and in the middle and there is little room for complex plot of characterisation. Everyone is essentially in it for themselves and niceties such as subtlety are very much left at the door.
The cast clearly had a great time making this one and for once, that does translate into a good experience for the viewer. Wheatley and regular co-writer Amy Jump have bashed out a genuinely witty script and the cast relish in spitting out the insults, cursing and laugh out loud funny one liners. It’s all over the place in terms of tone but when the script is as droll as this, it really doesn’t matter if somebody has just had their head crushed by a van. If you armed Tom and Jerry with rifles and got them really drunk, this is pretty much what you would end up with.
Steeped in 70’s atmosphere (including some superb use of John Denver) and boasting a spirited ensemble cast spouting a hilarious script, Free Fire is gloriously good fun as well as being complete B movie nonsense. Probably another one for the four-pint shelf….