On average, 309 people are shot in America every day, according to the Brady Campaign. These shootings happen because of “murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings and police interventions.” The topic of gun violence has been a fairly hot one in recent media coverage and politics. Campaigns like the Brady Campaign are devoted to preventing gun violence, while gun laws are continuously being introduced at all levels of government.
Gun violence in movies isn’t new either. Writers and directors like Quentin Tarantino are notorious for including high-action shootouts and bloody carnage in their movies, while films like Miss Sloane touch on the topic of gun control by following the story of D.C. lobbyists. And while these movies are great, sometimes they’re accompanied by long and intricate plots that overshadow or even justify the gun violence in them. But what if a movie was as simple as the violence it’s about? Luckily for moviegoers everywhere, a movie such as this one does exist. And yes, it is as incredibly awesome as it sounds.
Written by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley, Free Fire revolves around a plot that isn’t any more complex than its title. When two fiery Irish Republican Army soldiers, a South African gunrunner and a group of cronies walk into an abandoned Boston warehouse to reach an arms deal, it goes about as well as expected. Namely, ending with an hour and a half shootout full of backstabbing, false alliances and more than a little blood. With a star-studded cast that includes Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson and Armie Hammer, Free Fire is a sharp, witty action film unlike any I’ve ever seen.
What really drives this movie is the pure ridiculousness of the entire situation. Each character is absolutely absurd in their own right, making insane decisions throughout the entire film. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top, but luckily enough it doesn’t veer into cringe-inducing territory. Director and co-writer Ben Wheatley, known for Kill List and High Rise, balances between the outlandish and unbelievable, setting up an engaging, high-intensity scenario made fun by slapstick comedy and witty one-liners.
The acting is superb. As previously mentioned, the movie is fairly ridiculous and isn’t supposed to be taken completely seriously. That being said, each individual actor does an exceptional job at bringing their own character to life; each person is unique within their role, making certain elements of their characters believable while completely exaggerating other aspects. This isn’t the type of movie that’s going to garner any Oscar nominations for the acting, but it’s good just the same.
It’s also worth noting that while this movie contains ruthless violence, there are elements of it any audience member would be able to enjoy. Sure there’s the blood, guts and glory that accompanies any Hollywood action movie, but there’s also an abundance of clever humor thrown in to lighten the overall mood. There’s a coating of faux-seriousness that accompanies the entire film, which proves to be a great juxtaposition to the chaotic absurdity that’s found within. It’s like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs met Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — fresh, witty and hysterically violent.