Free Fire is what happens when a progressive filmmaker attempts to go multiplex with a film that is less an homage to minimal, one location crime-comedies, but more half-witted Reservoir Dogs imitation.
Critically-acclaimed partners in crime, Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, retry their hand at the ‘criminals in a room together’ genre; this time the IRA versus international arms dealers, as opposed to the sinister family affairs dealt with in social-realist crime thriller, Down Terrace. But miles from Wheatley’s brilliant debut, Free Fire descends into an exhausting montage of gunfire, whip-pans and racing dolly-ins, with little substance to hold it up. The constant artillery thunder adds to the illusion of the seemingly plotless meandering that Free Fire endeavours to create. In actual fact, several perfectly clichéd yet random twists reveal an interwoven story of deceit and backstabbing that could have functioned brilliantly with a healthy dose of dramatic irony.
Wheatley has proven himself as a dynamic filmmaker whose work reinventsconventions of modern genre films. Free Fire, however, misses the mark of cinemain-revolt – it’s not so much an intelligent challenge to action-overload but more an uninteresting attempt to produce an instant cult-classic.
The seventies sideburns are cool, but the film itself will leave audiences feeling lukewarm as it falls short of its ambitions to rein in the explosive grandeur of contemporary blockbusters and give us something more.