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Free Fire - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Free Fire
Directing: B-
Acting: B
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

Here's some high praise for Free Fire: it's not terrible! I mean, it's not great either, but how many movies are? How many even have to be? And how hard should I have to work to defend it?

There's not much to defend here, but only because there's not a great amount of depth to it. I'll give it this much: it doesn't pretend to be great. It's just escapist, action entertainment. Then again, it does do some pretending: it takes several stabs at cinematic cleverness, and it never quite lands.

The premise is pretty basic. Four different small groups of people meet to make an arms deal that goes south, to the point that the entire movie is set inside an abandoned factory building. What did they make? "Whatever it was, no one wants it now." If I were meaner, I could extract a metaphor for this movie out of that. Anyway, 80% of the run time is dedicated to all these people shooting each other, systematically wounding each other, and ultimately . . . do they end up killing each other? The suspense is killing me! Okay not really.

The thing is, I had a good enough time watching this movie. (Again with the high praise!) I do have mixed feelings about Brie Larson being the sole female character, thereby making the movie another cliche: one strong female performer surrounded by men. On the other hand, how realistic would it be for it to be a shootout between mostly women? Admittedly, I'd find such a movie far more fun regardless.

What we do get are the likes of Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and more as the many men of varying levels of shadiness who wind up each of them hidden behind leftover factory debris as they shoot at each other. It does feel like director and co-writer Ben Wheatley could have tightened things up a bit; even at 90 minutes, the action drags a little. This is a huge step up from Wheatley's incoherent High-Ris. At this rate, his next movie might be worth recommending!

I must admit, though, it's fun to see Brie Larson holding her own against all these douche bags. Free Fire has several moments that suggest great potential, both in the dialogue and in the camera work. With a premise like this, a little stylization could go a long away. Imagine if this movie had been directed by Guy Ritchie, or even Martin Scorsese -- who served as producer here. Free Fire is serviceable entertainment, but it could have been so much more.

Brie Larson packs the heat -- okay, lukewarmness -- into FREE FIRE.

Overall: B-
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