It is not every day that you get to meet a successful film director, or even see them in the flesh, but recently I got to do just that with Ben Wheatley. He was doing a Q&A preview screening for his new film Free Fire at Tyneside Cinema with the actor Sam Riley. He promised us a violent, yet funny film which was basically an extended action sequence, and he did not disappoint.
The film itself was an absolute riot in more ways than one. It was essentially a feature length shootout between the IRA and Boston gangsters with plenty of bullets and blood. A real highlight of the film was Sharlto Copley as wannabe ladies’ man, Vernon. Acting with his usual flair and uber strong South African accent, many of his scenes had the audience laughing out loud.
Another standout was Brie Larson, the only female actor in the film. Her performance as the witty and sarcastic Justine was a welcome relief through all the bravado and testosterone being exchanged between the male characters. Despite this being an action film, the only female character has agency and proper development.
"Despite this being an action film, the only female character has agency and proper development"
There are not many bad things to say about Free Fire, despite originally thinking that an extended shootout would lose pace or excitement, I was proven wrong. The singularity of this film is what makes it so great and appealing as you see the seeds of conflict develop organically, something unusual in action films today.
The only downside to this film is that it can be slightly predictable at times, and the elaborate nature of it mean that you can lose track of characters from time to time.
Overall Free Fire is breath of fresh air for action films as it dissects their very nature and pushes all possibilities to their absolute limit. While I do not believe that it is as good as Wheatley’s previous film, High Rise (2015), it is not far off and definitely worth checking out when it is fully released.
More like this: The Raid (2011)