What we have here is a down-and-dirty picture. Which is to say its entire cast is downed in a hail of gunfire. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
They used to call them B-pictures. The undercard of double features, back in the day when such things were a thing, they boasted (modestly) modest budgets, modest running times, stars of modest stature and modest narrative ambitions. They aimed to entertain without much muss and fuss and then get out of the way to make room for the main event.
Double features have long gone the way of the great auk, but Bs still fly from time to time into today’s ’plexes. Case in point: “Free Fire.”
With the likes of Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Brie Larson heading the cast list and with a British guy named Ben Wheatley in the director’s chair (if you can find it, check out his ultralow-budget “A Field in England”: guy’s got skills), this is not a production of high prominence. And with the whole of it set in a crummy warehouse, you can bet not a lot of coin was expended on production design.
Movie Review ★★
‘Free Fire,’ with Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer. Directed by Ben Wheatley, from a screenplay by Wheatley and Amy Jump. 85 minutes. Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use. Several theaters.
But what really cements its B bona fides are bullets. And blood. There’s an abundance of both in “Free Fire.”
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What we have here is a down and dirty picture. Which is to say its entire cast is downed in a hail of gunfire whereupon, variously and continually wounded, they spend most of the movie crawling over the filthy warehouse floor, shooting the living bejabbers out of one another.
It’s all the result of a gun deal gone badly wrong. One group of lowlifes has “the merch” (so called), cases of assault rifles. The other has the cash. Nobody trusts anybody else very much, and when two half-wits start throwing punches and imprecations, things quickly escalate and the warehouse becomes a shooting gallery.
Interspersed with the bullets are volleys of wiseguy banter: “I’m not dead; I’m just regrouping.” And, “so that’s what a (expletive) brain looks like.” Stuff like that and its take-no-prisoners pacing take it up a notch from the average low-budget shoot ’em up.
Mostly though, the dialogue largely consists of gasps, grunts and moans of pain. And curses. Lots and lots of curses.
With everybody shooting at everybody else, confusion reigns, until someone plaintively cries, “I forgot whose side I’m on!”
Don’t you just hate it when that happens?