Longest shootout in movie history?
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Written by: Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley
Cast: Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy
Swift shot: I didn’t think they could make a 90 minute shoot-out film, but pretty much that is what you get with Free Fire. Things escalate quickly and an abandoned factory in the ’70s becomes the perfect setting for a gun deal with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) gone magnificently awry. And, for some weird reason, John Denver music is prevalent.
The thing with a movie full of scumbags is that it is hard to find even one person to be sympathetic to, after all, these are all bad guys. While they are all despicable in their own ways, some are worse than others. And apparently even these losers have a moral code, of sorts.
There’s Stevo (Sam Riley) a kind of poor man’s DiCaprio, one imagines if Gangs of New York happened today, this mutt would be ideal for the role. Stevo has a brother, Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) or cousin, I don’t really care which he was, to be honest. Again, I didn’t care about any of these people; it was just amusing watching them all kill each other in inventive ways. That team of assholes is led by Frank (Michael Smiley), a mid-level Irish gangster who is running guns to the IRA for “the cause.” Their IRA liaison Chris (Murphy) is a somewhat sympathetic character . . . for a terrorist. He at least knows that he is being swindled by the gun dealers and is the most professional of the group of idiots.
The gun dealers are Justine (Larson) who facilitates the meeting between the two groups, and her boss is Vernon (Copley), a real slimy character, you could almost smell the carnuba wax on his mustache, assuming that’s what they used in the ’70s on those ridiculous things. He is in charge of jack shit though, as his henchman Martin (Babou Ceesay), the excommunicated Black Panther keeps reminding him. Side note, he must be some piece of work to have been expelled by the Black Panthers in the violent ’70s!
Now, there was one sympathetic character, for me, a clear operator, Ord (Hammer) a kind of professional mediator, or hired gun, to keep everything smooth during the transition phase. Everyone above was, more or less, professional until the brass down the crack of their ass shows up, Harry (Jack Reynor). This guy looked like Seth Rogen’s stunt double with bad hair and a worse attitude. Granted, when we find out why he is unprofessional, it becomes hard not to understand why he loses his cool and sets into motion the longest shoot-out I have ever witnessed on screen.
You can almost smell the cordite as the bullets start to crack into the concrete and dust and dirt permeate the wounds of the unfortunate morons trying to buy guns to mow down Brits in Northern Ireland.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a spectacular shootout where it takes hours for the bad guys (which, again, is everyone) to kill anyone, Free Fire is right up your shooting lane. There’s small arms fire and other fires as each of the characters becomes wounded enough to prevent them from running around and doing much real damage. There’s a visceral kind of grainy reality as you see just how many gun shot wounds a human can endure before finally checking out permanently.
In the end, we all win, as this group of jackasses end up doing the work of ridding the world of a few brainless buffoons with automatic weapons. I am sure this was a film about the dangers of guns or some shit, but as a Marine veteran, all I kept thinking was, what a bunch of fuck-ups. They’d be dead in less than two minutes if my friends had shown up, especially in the ’70s. My major take away from Free Fire is that I should get in some range time, just in case there are some jokers like this out in my neighborhood someday.