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Free Fire tries hard to replicate Tarantino, but dull dialogue makes the film misfire
There's a lot of respect to give when someone decides to set the entirety of a story within one location. Some would argue that it prevents the world it's set in from establishing itself as big along with not much personality. A lot of that is made up with making the characters interesting with charisma and dialogue. Good examples of this have included My Dinner with Andre, which is all just one dinner, The Breakfast Club, which was set in a high school, and some Quentin Tarantino films like Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight.
What about the action genre? Oddly, I mostly associate most action in one-location stories to the horror genre. While we do have action movies like Die Hard and Dredd which were technically set in one location, they had a large scope didn't truly feel confined. Hateful Eight seemed more terrifying when there was only one room within the cabin where hiding wasn't really an option. Today's movie is not only set within a warehouse, but is full of trigger-happy people that are ready to aim. So can a shoot-em-up work when it's all in one place? Let's see if Free Fire can work.
Sometime during the 1970's in Boston, a group of people are meeting in a warehouse to purchase several arms. Two guys, Stevo (played by Sam Riely) and Bernie (played by Enzo Cilenti) first come in an RV. They then meet up with two IRA members Chris (played by Cillian Murphy) and Frank (played by Michael Smiley). While waiting for a representative, Justine (played by Brie Larson) comes in to take up on the deal. Just as their getting to know each other, Ord (played by Armie Hammer) comes to bring them inside.
It's here their buying some high-class weapons from a dealer Vernon (played by Sharlto Copley). Things go smoothly until one of the goons working for Vernon recognizes Stevo as the man who raped his cousin. Rather then apologize, Stevo instead insults him more leading the two fighting each other. It escalates into a bullet being fired at one of the parties. This makes everyone grab a weapon or two as the go to their corner and pretty much battle to the death or until police arrive.
I have to give Free Fire a lot of credit for trying to emulate the Quentin Tarantino style with similar dirty dialogue, a nostalgia-fueled soundtrack, and an uncertainty of who will make it out alive. In fact, I was on board for the first twenty minutes before they start shooting when we get an idea of who everyone is. It's not to say that good banter couldn't have happened as they were shooting each other, but I was board the majority of the time. That has to do with the fact that neither the acting nor characters were that interesting. Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy seemed to be the only ones I was invested in. Everyone else seemed very bland, including Brie Larson. This goes to show that you need a juicy script in order to make these situations work. The other thing I will comment on is the action, while is not spectacular, does allow for some inventive situations given their claustrophobic location.
I thought about The Belko Experiment, which had a similar premise, but I remember that and it's costars more then I do for Free Fire. Along with a better script that took advantage of it's over-the- top scenario, it had memorable characters that you wanted to follow to the end. I expected Free Fire to be a lot funnier and for a movie that was produced by Martin Scorsese, I was let down.
I'll give this four bad looking RVs out of ten. Free Fire has a great idea of a tense action comedy, but it fails to live up to the premise. Despite some good moments, they are not enough to recover from a botched execution. Free Fire is a misfire.
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