Martin Scorsese is a producer on the indie action film, “Free Fire”. His “Wolf of Wall Street” currently holds the record for most f-bombs in a mainstream movie, with more than 500. “Free Fire” certainly gives “Wolf” a run for its money in that category – and at only half the running time.
The reason co-writer and director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) has his ensemble freely spew the f-word, and all its close relatives on the profanity family tree, is to make up for a lack of any legitimate dialogue in the script. However, “Free Fire” wasn’t designed to be dialogue-driven. This is a shoot ‘em up action movie, dominated by bullets, not words. The problem? It mostly fires blanks.
The opening 20 minutes introduce us to all of the characters. The ensemble includes Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy and the lone female – Oscar-winner Brie Larson. Sporting stylish 70s attire (the film is set in 1978 in Boston) everyone meets at a deserted warehouse to complete a weapons deal. Murphy’s Chris and his gang are looking to buy guns to ship back to Ireland to help the cause in his homeland. These scenes are as dull as dirt.
Once a key detail is revealed, the warehouse turns into a madhouse as the shooting begins. The rival sides partner-up and the two gangs square-off to see who can make it out alive with the guns and the money. Sadly, those outfits I really liked quickly get torn to shreds.
Regardless of all its problems up to this point, there was still a chance “Free Fire” could recover with some fun and/or clever action. But there’s none of that here. Every scene happens with the sole purpose of one character shooting another, who then responds by getting upset. And, again, all attempts at snappy, Tarantino-esque verbal exchanges fail miserably.
I’ve never been a big fan of films, such as “Free Fire”, that don’t have a legitimate point. You better be amazingly entertaining if you’ve got nothing to say. “Free Fire” misses the target in just about every category.
We don’t care about any of these people, so it doesn’t matter who lives or dies. And showing a complete lack of imagination, Wheatley picks John Denver music to try to add a “unique”, quirky comedic touch – a technique that’s only been used in crime dramedies, for the past 20+ years.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Free Fire” gets a D-.
Running Time: 90 min.