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Free Fire Review

25 Apr

One of the more disappointing efforts of the year thus far, and not because I had any delusions about this being a masterpiece. Rather, this is disappointing because Ben Wheatley understands exactly what this film is and what he needs to do, yet still doesn’t do it very well. It’s oftentimes bad chaotic when it should be good chaotic, dull when it should be fast-paced, and cringeworthy when it should be cool. I don’t quite understand the praise for the script because some of these lines sound like they’re coming from the mouth of a wannabe filmmaker who once saw a Tarantino highlight reel on Youtube. The setup before the firefight is the most egregious example of this–awkward and unfunny and an awful attempt at building tension–and it’s not till everyone starts getting shot that the actors begin to shine.

The actors do all have their moments, and they gleefully throw themselves into the madness and provide a fair amount of entertainment. I’m a fan of the good ‘ol standoff/shootout scenario, so my enjoyment of that setup as an idea paired with my enjoyment of the cast results in a score a bit higher than the film really deserves. Plus, there are a solid amount of well crafted action scenes–there’s one involving a John Denver song that’s quite excellent–and the production is wonderful across the board (sound is integral here). However, what sets Reservoir Dogs or Green Room apart from this is the investment the audience has in what’s going on. No, you don’t need well-sketched characters with backstories and motivations to craft a fun bloodbath. You need a reasonably well-sketched bloodbath, though, and you need to craft a world–even if it’s just one room–with believable stakes. Free Fire is empty fun without enough of the fun.

GRADE: B-

Photo credit: A24

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