The big bloody shootout at the end of our favorite unapologetic violent movies are a staple in the cinematic landscape. The audience sits on the edge of their seat wondering who will be the first to pull the trigger and who will be left standing when the bullets start flying. LA Confidential, Django Unchained and Scarface all ended with massive shoot outs with our players shooting their way out of a no win situation or going out in a blaze of glory like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
The new film Free Fire starring Oscar winner Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and the always entertaining Sharlto Copely is a love letter to all those violent films that usually ended with everybody drawing their pieces with intent to kill. Imagine if the final scene of Reservoir Dogs with all the colorful gangsters having a little standoff was stretched out over 90 minutes. That is basically a Cliff Notes version of Free Fire, which focuses on a weapons deal gone bad in Boston during 1978. Free Fire definitely has a throwback feel of the gritty cinema of the 1970s with characters in bad suits, turtlenecks and language that is devoid of political correctness.
Free Fire seems like a novel concept stretching what it usually a ten minute highlight of our violent crime capers into a feature film, but unfortunately the gimmick does get a bit stale during the movie’s short running time. After some exposition to introduce our cast of characters, the bullets start to fly through flesh after a random argument escalates into violence. Our participants involved in this bullet riddled affair include Armie Hammer as a smooth talking mediator, Sharlto Copley as a scene stealing sleaze and Brie Larson whose character Justine is very out-of-place in this gang of crooks. The shootout is crazy fun at first, but after the initial barrage of bullets have stopped much of the film seems to be on repeat. The injured cons spend a good portion of Free Fire crawling on the ground, shouting profanities and taking even more shots to their already battered bodies.
After viewing Free Fire, it’s obvious that one big shootout should not be stretched out over an entire film. Sometimes if the action formula isn’t broke, you shouldn’t try to fix it. Free Fire takes a creative risk having the story surround only one shoot out and unfortunately you become numb to the action after about fifteen minutes which is the usual length of your normal movie shootout. Free Fire does has some fun moments and the cast carries the simple story structure, but for the most part the film drags like the wounded who spend most of the movie bleeding on the dirty floor of the warehouse that is ground zero for the action.
Overall, I give Free Fire 2.5 out of 4 stars.
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