TIFF 2016: ‘Free Fire’

It is probably inaccurate to call Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire “a comedy of errors” given that term’s context, but perhaps the term “comedy of injuries” could be coined to describe this cross between cruelty and the absurd in a way that only Wheatley can do.

At some point in the 1970s, a group of people need to purchase a large shipment of rifles for unexplained reasons from a second group of people;  it just so happens that two people, one from each group, have a problem with each other stemming from an incident the night before.  Of course, there is only one way that this can all turn out: all-out carnage!

Free Fire is the cinematic equivalent of a shot of espresso first thing in the morning.  There are many working parts that make this film particularly unique: the fact that, unlike most such films, it is heavily concentrated in one location – a large warehouse – and the fact there is no glorification of the violence with no place left for heroics.  Shots do not result in a cool scar and a numb arm.  Instead, they result in gaping wounds, leaving the wounded crawling and falling and the whole thing is accentuated with the funniest, most clever black humour dialogue.  On at least one occasion, you will be surprised to hear yourself laughing at something that you find horrific.

Finally, accolades need to be given to two other aspects of this film.  The first is the wonderful ensemble cast, which includes Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley and the standout, criminally underrated Michael Smiley, who fully take on their roles and give their performances just the right amount of pathos.  The film also has a beautiful look to it.  The cinematography and the costumes are absolute perfection, to the point where you may occasionally find yourself forgetting that you’re watching a bloody action film.

Wheatley may seem to be due for a flop considering his ambitious, critically acclaimed track record, but Free Fire is not that flop.


Free Fire screens at TIFF on:

Wednesday, September 14 at 12:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre (press and industry)

Rating: 18A
Language: English
Runtime: 90 minutes

For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.

Buy tickets here.

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