Free Fire **

Brie Larson and Armie Hammer headline this misfire action pic. 

Is it worth $10? No 

In the history of movies, I don’t think more characters have survived more gun shot wounds than as seen in “Free Fire.” Bullets connect with various body parts, yet for the longest time, no one dies. You would think professional gunrunners would have better aim. It’s truly remarkable that most of the characters are still around at the end of the film; one guy doesn’t even die from bullet wounds even though he’s been shot multiple times.

Reality clearly wasn’t the impulse behind the creation of “Free Fire,” though in hindsight one wonders what compelled Martin Scorsese to sign on as an executive producer. In that role he’s responsible to oversee the production and ensure it’s completed on time, on budget, etc. He also has creative input, but creatively there’s not much here. A bunch of thugs in a warehouse shooting each other – that’s the movie. What Scorsese contributed and/or thought he could bring is anyone’s guess.

It’s Boston, 1978. Bad hair and worse suits are in play. In an abandoned warehouse, Ord (Armie Hammer) has organized the sale of M-16 rifles from Vernon (Sharlto Copley) to Chris (Cillian Murphy). Each has back up, ranging from Vernon’s associate Martin (Babou Ceesay) to Chris’ brother-in-law Frank (Michael Smiley). There are other miscreants roaming about as well, but the real wild card is the lone female, Justine (Brie Larson), who’s a romantic interest for both Vernon and Chris. A communication breakdown occurs, a gunfight ensues.

As you may presume, the story’s paper-thin. Of course it is. This is about criminals shooting each other – what do you expect? The characters are one-dimensional and poorly developed. Of course they are – we don’t need or want to know more about them. This is all understandable. But the undynamic, poorly shot and edited action is unforgiveable. Co-writer (with Amy Jump) and director Ben Wheatley fails to showcase filmmaking techniques outside of a slow motion sequence or two, which means the gunfire starts to feel really repetitive really fast. Playing with camera angles, the music, and ensuring that the editing provides a clear sense of character and location would’ve gone a long way toward improving the action. A few more plot twists would’ve helped too.

On top of all that, it’s also not as funny as it could be. Hammer and Copley get a few good one-liners in, but the black comedy is lacking comedy. If this is intended to be a satire of our gun-crazed present day, and/or of ridiculous action movies, it fails. The only thing one can really glean from “Free Fire” is that a person can be shot multiple times and still live for at least a few hours. Good to know. Didn’t need a movie to learn that, though.

Did you know?
From Armie Hammer said that police appeared on set during the second day of shooting following calls of concern from members of the public in nearby shops having heard gun shots.

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