Thursday, April 20, 2017

Surprise! Ben Wheatley & Amy Jumps' chatty action movie, FREE FIRE, is good, nasty fun

First off, there's the ace cast. After their last abortive collaboration on High-Rise (which also sported a very good cast), this newest effort of the writing/directing team Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley -- FREE FIRE -- turns out to be the most downright entertaining of their work thus far. It's empty as hell, regarding any meaning that might be ascertained, but watching and listening to the actors assembled here strut their very impressive stuff is certainly worth the 90 minutes of screen time. You'll snicker (enjoyably) at much of the dialog, and keep your eyes wide open at the action/visuals.

Mr. Wheatley (shown at left) and Ms Jump enjoy combining humor (usually very dark) with violence (often rather ultra), but here -- perhaps because of their cast of criminal characters, a couple of these semi-classy, most of them not -- though much of the action, once it begins, is full of gunfire, the violence seems rather toned down, while the humor is dark, yet little more than you might expect from folk such as these.

The plot entails an illegal arms deal gone bad, first via some uncontrollable rage among the participants, then later from an out-and-out betrayal. Who is responsible for the latter remains a mystery for quite awhile, adding to our interest, which is already piqued by the smart ensemble cast.

The actors include a nice mix of British/Irish/Aussie/South African/American actors -- from the up-and-very-coming Jack Reynor (above, center) to Cillian Murphy (below, left),  Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor (above, right), a bushy-bearded Armie Hammer (above, left) and Brie Larson -- plus a lot more, all of whom are first-rate.

Jump and Wheatley have jiggered their often quite comic dialog very nicely to fit each actor so that we learn what we need to -- both plot- and character-wise -- from the plentiful words that keeping sprouting like vinegar-laced popcorn from the actors on hand. We soon know who these people are and why literally none of them are to be trusted nor cared much about. Which of course makes what happens to them go down all the more easily.

Mr. Copley, above, left, does a bang-up job as a sleazebag overly concerned with his new suit, while Ms Larson, below, as the lone woman in the crew, runs the gamut from would-be romantic heroine to me-first moll who's better with gun-play than foreplay.

Actually, just about everyone here is a very lousy shot, and considering how much ammunition is expended in the course of the film (oodles, really), it takes an awfully long time to waste the game cast. But the wasting is relatively fun, overall. Who remains -- and how and why -- is usually tricky and enjoyable in this genre of film, and so it is here. I make no great claims for the movie, but for what it is, it certainly delivers the goods. (That's Sam Riley, below, as perhaps the dumbest and most problematic of a generally dim crew.)

From A24, Free Fire opens nationwide tomorrow, Friday, April 21. Here in South Florida you can find it at the following theaters: Aventura Mall 24, Aventura,; Miami Lakes 17, Miami Lakes,  Cobb Hialeah Grand 18, Hialeah; South Beach 18, Miami Beach; iPic, North Miami Beach; Intracoastal 8, North Miami Beach; Sunset Place 24, South Miami; Cinepolis Grove 15, Coconut Grove; Kendall Village Stadium 16, Miami; Southland Mall Stadium 16, Miami; CMX Brickell City Center 10, Miami; Oakwood 18, Hollywood; Coral Ridge 10, Ft. Lauderdale; Cypress Creek 16, Ft. Lauderdale; Sawgrass 23, Sunrise; Magnolia Place 16, Coral Springs; Pompano Beach 18, Pompano Beach; T-Bird Drive In, Fort Lauderdale; Silverspot Coconut Creek Cinemas, Coconut Creek; City Place 20, West Palm Beach; Royal Palm Beach 18, Royal Palm Beach; Cinepolis, Jupiter 14, Jupiter; Mizner Park 8, Theatres, Boca Raton, and the Cinemark Palace 20, Boca Raton. To find a theater near wherever you are, click here.

No comments: