Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe of The Harold & Maudecast review the film, FREE FIRE from Directory Ben Wheatley (HIGH-RISE, KILL LIST).
Justine (Brie Larson) brokers a gun deal in a deserted warehouse in Boston circa late 70s between two Irishmen, Chris (Cillian Murphy)and Frank (Michael Smiley) and a couple of arms dealers, Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer). Things quickly grow tense when it's discovered that one of the Irishmen's hired sidekicks had been in a squabble with one of Vernon's men the previous night. A shot is fired and all hell breaks loose turning a friendly shopping transaction into a deadly gun battle. It's every man, or woman, for themselves as they try to survive the night.
We wanted to love this movie, it has all the ingredients to be a great gangster film; 70s backdrop, Boston, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Executive producer Martin Scorsese, Writer/Director Ben Wheatley, heart-stopping gun battle. Sadly, we did not love it. The script is not strong enough to outwit the humdrum of 2 hours in the same location and the same day. This concept, when done well can be brilliant (Reservoir Dogs, Hateful 8), but this story failed to develop its characters enough to keep you invested in their survival. What could have been an awesome backdrop, Boston in the late 70s, was futile as apart from the costume design and the captions, the setting was incidental. One can only presume that the Irishman are shopping for guns for the IRA, they make no mention of the details or the background of any of these characters. We know literally nothing about them other than they need guns and the other guys have them. A underwhelming betrayal subplot emerges out of nowhere adding nothing to the story except a predictable conclusion. If you're a fan of stylized gun fights, you'll be charmed by some of the performances particularly Sharlto Copley and Cillian Murphy--who, no matter how bad or good his character is, you'll root for him out of respect for his exceptional talent.
We give this film a 7/10. Sound high after that review? We'll explain... The Harold & Maudecast is all about bridging the gap between fans and critics and our Justice and Doom Movie Ratings Meter (www.thehmcnetwork.com/movie-reviews ) is designed with this in mind. We rate on a combo of critical analysis and fan likability. FREE FIRE is worth a watch. It's entertaining and will satisfy many fans of the gangster genre. Critically, it's a flawed film. We recommend waiting for VOD to rent it.
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