Under the Radar

Home Video: Pure Adrenalin and a Gun Deal Gone Wrong in 'Free Fire'

Free Fire is a heist movie that abandons all of the setup and gets right down to business. No boring backstories: no sick family members who need cash for the doctor, no lovelorn sad sacks who are trying to raise money to run off with an inappropriate lover, no revenge against the crew that did anyone wrong.

It's the 70s and we meet a group converging on a Boston warehouse for a deal between the IRA and a South African weapons dealer. Justine (Brei Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer) are the American go-betweens. Chris (Cillian Murphy) leads the IRA crew and Vernon (Sharlto Copley) is the South African arms merchant. Things go off the rails quickly and we spend most of the movie's 90-minute running time watching the gun battle that ensues. There's a double-cross in play during the deal but we don't find out what's really been going on until the very end of the film.


Director Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Kill List) lays out the action in a relentlessly logical and geometrically accurate fashion. There's basically one giant set and the film is all about tactical moves by the competing crews. Noah Taylor (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Game of Thrones), Michael Smiley (The World's End, Luther) and Jack Reynor (Sing Street) are all excellent in supporting roles.

Wheatley offers an excellent commentary track as one of the bonus features. Endorsed by Martin Scorsese (who signed on as executive producer), this is the kind of flawlessly executed action filmmaking that CGI-heavy superhero movies never get right. The image on the box doesn't lie: this is a movie about guns and one that's sort of about the people holding them.

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