Thursday, 13 April 2017

Film: 'Free Fire'

Such a crying shame that, due to bus being stalled in clogged traffic, I only made it into the cinema a full 20 minutes after it had started - and the film is only an hour and a half long anyway. Probably the first time this has ever happened. Normally I'd have waited for another screening but this was the very final showing in an unaccountably short run of just one week - and for an eagerly anticipated film too. 
I had to see it by hook or by crook as it's the latest work of one of my very favourite of contemporary directors, Ben Wheatley, who's already given us such unusual and memorable films as 'High Rise', 'A Field in England' and, most notably, the highly original and unpredictable 'Sightseers' (one of my 2012 films of the year). Wheatley always has something fresh to say and with a novel approach - and this latest breaks new ground as well. 

I gather from the blurb that the action here takes place in Boston, 1978. The film is set just about entirely in a gloomy warehouse (the photo above doesn't reflect the all-pervading murkiness on screen) -- plenty of shadows to take cover in, which is just what is needed when about ten gangsters, including one young woman (Brie Larson) are arguing heatedly - the point where I came in  - before bullets start flying. Not seeing the start I didn't know who was who, what were the sides, what was the hierarchy within the rivalries and what they were feuding about, though the latter revealed itself to be a briefcase which must have contained a large sum of dosh. But as to the whys and wherefores I didn't have the foggiest. 
Apart from Larson the only other names in the cast which  I recognised were Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Patrick Bergin. Not that it helped much knowing their names as there's much facial hair on more than a few of them and, once the fighting commences in earnest, everyone makes for the cover of darkness. The next hour, apart from one lull, is almost all shooting, which must make it the most extended shoot-out I've seen in any film. I was wondering how many bullets could have been expended in the time - 200? Maybe more.
Even though I wasn't clear on which side was which, the action results in multiple gunshot wounds to just about everybody. (I don't think any of them were killed outright on first shot.) They spend the time dragging themselves along the floor seeking a more propitious place to aim at their adversaries while still offering cover. While bullets are whizzing every second or two there's much yelling, arguing, threats, insults and taunts. One might have expected it to get tiring to watch but I didn't find it so at all, even though, not having been witness to the establishing of the characters, I didn't know where my sympathies ought to lie. Actually it didn't matter all that much. I still liked it. There's very little visual dwelling on the many bleeding wounds on the several bodies, both expired and yet surviving, though hurting bad.

I really must see this film again from the very start. I can't see it preventing me from giving it my approval. As it is my rating must be a reserved, qualified one, and could well have been higher. Even so, it's a still very satisfactory score of...............6.5.

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