70s tale Free Fire is a blast

Ben Wheatley’s gritty new film is intense, funny, absurd and political – sometimes all at once


FREE FIRE (Ben Wheatley). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (April 21). See listing. Rating: NNNN


Following up their J.R. Ballard adaptation, High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley and his life partner and constant screenwriter, Amy Jump, deliver another 70s tale in Free Fire. If High-Rise was debauched and delirious, Free Fire is rougher, grittier and even more chaotic. 

It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Control’s Sam Riley, District 9’s Sharlto Copley and Sing Street’s Jack Reynor play various parties trapped in a Boston warehouse after an arms sale explodes into violence.

Wheatley and Jump structure the script invisibly but brilliantly once the bullets start flying, the trajectory of each projectile is informed by the relationship between the person firing it and the intended target. That allows Free Fire to be intense, funny, absurd and even political, sometimes all at once. 

It’s also a hair on the bloody side, but we’ve come to expect that from Wheatley and Jump. But really, after Down Terrace and Kill List, there’s nothing here that’ll faze you. 

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