Movie title: Free Fire (2016)

Director(s): Ben Wheatley

Actor(s): Brie Larson, Enzo Cilenti , Sam Riley , Michael Smiley , Cillian Murphy , Armie Hammer

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

[amazon_link asins=’B071S6ZX49′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’moviegazetteo-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cb30c0aa-7094-11e7-a377-45a549190a78′]With the promise of non-stop action, and a cool 1970’s vibe, the trailer for Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire promises great things. Trouble is, the best parts of the film are encapsulated in that two-and-a-half-minutes. Despite the talents of Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room), Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, and Cillian Murphy, there’s little else to the story. Following a brief setup, in which the various participants in an arms deal are established, the whole thing turns into a long, protracted shootout.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few moments of humor, but they arrive before the gunplay, and pass quickly. The buyers complain that the weapons presented for purchase aren’t the ones they agreed upon. At the same time, Justine (Larson), the lone female involved in the deal, must fend off the advances of her male associates with dry wit. Trouble starts when a scuffle breaks out over one guy’s mistreatment of another’s cousin. Had writer/director Ben Wheatley and his longtime collaborator/spouse Amy Jump done anything in terms of character development, the cousin issue could have been a point of interest. Instead, when the bullets fly just minutes later, it’s impossible to really care about the outcome of the protracted battle.

Obviously inspired by Quentin Tarantino, Wheatley has infused Free Fire with the over-the-top action, and 1970’s vibe that often makes Tarantino’s movies so identifiable. However, Wheatley doesn’t have Tarantino’s deft ability to make us care about the characters, despite an obvious taste for violence. In all honesty though, I found myself repeatedly glancing at the blank stare affixed to Brie Larson’s face throughout the film, and wondered how her agent thought this disposal, underwritten role was a good fit off her success in Room. Yes, Martin Scorsese was an executive producer, but in the end, Free Fire is a wasted opportunity with some top-notch talent.

Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio this 1080p transfer achieves a rather gritty look considering its digital roots. While those involved have gone to great lengths to make things look like the 1970’s, the image is clear, and the action doesn’t get lost in the shadows. Edges are sharp, and the darker color palette of orange, red, and brown is pleasing. Contrast is consistent.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is well mixed, emphasizing the constant barrage of gunshots. While ambient sounds are given space when necessary. Dialogue remains clean, and clear above the noise. You might want to avoid this one if you have a headache! English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Ben Wheatley and Actors Cillian Murphy and Jack Murphy: Easy going, and peppered with tidbits about the making of the film, Wheatley clearly leads the discussion, but allows the others to share their thoughts.
  • The Making of Free Fire (HD, 15:58) Typical, but informative EPK, with behind-the-scenes footage, and cast/crew interviews.
  • Digital HD Copy.