Original high concept action used to be the bread and butter of Hollywood. Now that every move is a comic book or franchise, Free Fire feels like a refreshing throwback. It could learn a thing or two from the classics but the cast is enough fun to make it worthwhile.
An arms deal at an abandoned warehouse goes south leaving different factions to shoot their way out. Who will be the last crook standing?
Free Fire knows it’s a low budget action movie in a generic warehouse location. It embraces it and really finds fun gags throughout the location. The dirty warehouse floor provides more cleverness than any of the gunfights, and they explore every corner of the warehouse and buried old supplies for explosive gags. It’s not 100% gunplay and the other improvised tricks are more impressive.
The geography of the warehouse could be established better. Every angle on the warehouse is pretty indistinct, so when each shooter is huddled behind cover, it’s hard to get a sense of where they are in relation to each other. They shoot, then take cover, then change location but they could be anywhere. What more can you do with columns and blocks? The plot keeps moving though.
Each character is assigned a one dimensional personality type. Vernon (Sharlto Copley) is a neat freak. Steveo (Sam Riley) is the idiot who relentlessly makes things worse. Christopher (Cillian Murphy)’s trait seems to be that he’s interested in Justine (Brie Larson) and hers is being a woman in a man’s crime world. They, and Ord (Armie Hammer) who’s just trying to make the deal go smoothly and get out, could be more defined but they’re also supposed to be sort of blank slate criminals. The allies and rivalries shift and the rivalry that started it all pays off absurdly extremely.
Free Fire keeps the pace moving. Jokes are hit and miss, but it’s never boring. This is the kind of movie you used to go see at a drive-in or an off weekend and feel satisfied. With tentpole movies being delivered every week, I hope people can still appreciate a gang putting on a pyrotechnic show in a warehouse for them.