Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) are driving to meet two IRA members, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley). On the way, Stevo tells Bernie that he was beaten up the previous day by the cousin of a woman he abused. The group meet outside a Boston warehouse, where they wait with intermediary Justine (Brie Larson). A representative arrives, Ord (Armie Hammer), who leads them inside. The group is there to buy guns from arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his associates, Martin (Babou Ceesay), Harry (Jack Reynor) and Gordon (Noah Taylor). Despite tensions between the two groups and the fact that Vernon supplied the wrong weapons, Chris' group secure the weapons in a van and hand over the money in a briefcase..
I watched this at a Cineworld Unlimited showing. Before it played, there was a little intro from Ben Wheatley the director. He described the movie as a fun action film, with lots of violence and lots of swearing, and that it was mercifully short. I'm not sure I can characterise it much better than that. So I'm not going to try.
When I saw the trailers for this film, I turned to my wife and said "I really hope this whole film is contained in the one room, if they do that, then it will have to stand and fall on the script, the characters and the acting, rather than just rely on some special effects and the action". I am pleased to report, I got my wish.
The setup is simple. We're in 1978, a group of Irish men (presumably IRA) are trying to buy guns in American, Boston to be precise, so they ship them back to Ireland, and use them to shoot the British. The 'brains' of the outfit are Chris and Frank played by Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley respectively. The (and I'm using this next word in the loosest possible way) 'muscle' (but in all fairness, they certainly don't seem to have any brains) are Stevo and Bernie.
On the other side, we have the sellers, headed up by Vern, played by Sharlto Copley, and Ord played by Armie Hammer.
Both parties seem to have been brought together by the only woman in the film, Justine played by Brie Larson.
So, we have a briefcase full of cash, and a van full of guns, all we have to do is swap one for the other. What could go wrong?
Let's just say that there is a disagreement over someone's actions, and things quickly spiral out of control.
I'm not going to get into details, because to be honest, there aren't very many, and if you've read any of my other reviews I don't like to spoil. We can just say that bullets start flying, left, right and centre, and we have a film.
The films hangs on the humour of the situation. The one liners, the insanely inappropriate comments, the wonderful character interactions.
The exchanges between Frank and Ord are wonderful.
Vern is hilarious, and his reactions to Chris chatting up Justine are a great running joke. It really will make you giggle, often at things you'd wish didn't make you laugh. Watching people get shot shouldn't be funny, but in this context, it just is.
This is the ultimate Mexican standoff. Luckily none of the characters have a particularly good aim, so the ridiculousness lasts exactly 90 minutes, and that feels just about right. There is only so much chaos, bursts of gunfire interlinked with witty banter that an audience can take.
This isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a wonderful example of a guilty pleasure movie. Lots of action, lots of jokes, and a little more intrigue then you originally expect. Oh, didn't I say it doesn't play out quite as simply as you'd assume? No? Well it doesn't, it actually keeps you on your toes, that is when you're not rolling around on the floor.
Remember to listen carefully, because some of the best jokes come in the middle of gunshots, or are said in a ridiculously over the top South African accent.
Well worth 90 minutes of anyone's time.
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