Helping to facilitate a deal, Justine (Brie Larson) leads Bernie (Enzo Cilenti), Stevo (Sam Riley), Chris (Cillian Murphy), and Frank (Michael Smiley) to an abandoned warehouse. The group has a briefcase full of cash, looking to buy a van-load of weapons.
When Justine and the men arrive at the warehouse, they are greeted by Ord (Armie Hammer), who takes them to an arms dealer named Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his associates Martin (Babou Ceesay), Gordon (Noah Tyler), and Harry (Jack Reynor). Chris gets upset when he sees that Vernon has brought the wrong weapons, but ultimately agrees to the deal.
As Stevo heads toward the van to help load the weapons, he recognizes on of Vernon’s men and refuses to go over. Harry sees Stevo and tries to attack him for an incident the night before. When Stevo offers an apology followed by further insults about their previous encounter, Harry shoots Stevo. This leads to a shootout between the two groups. As the injuries mount, the men drag themselves around the warehouse trying to get the loose briefcase of cash, the weapons, and escape. Adding fuel to the fire are two strange men who start shooting at everyone else in the warehouse.
From watching the trailer and knowing the cast involved, Free Fire seems like a promising set up for an entertaining action/comedy movie. Unfortunately, it never quite gets there.
Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, and Armie Hammer do what they can with the script they are working with. The problem is, we aren’t given enough back story on their characters to make us care about them. Of course, that isn’t the focus of the film. Rather, the point is to get the characters into a gunfight as quickly as possible and keep them shooting at each other the whole time. When that isn’t enough, we add a few ancillary characters who do nothing more than add more bullets and confusion to the fray.
Wasting its potential, the film quickly becomes an hour and a half of wounded men dragging themselves around an empty warehouse. In theory, it may work. In real life, however, the gag gets old quickly. There are also a couple of lines by Armie Hammer early in the film that are unnecessary and offensive, using slurs that have long since been deemed unacceptable. The film is set in the late 1970s in Boston, so these may have been added to give the film “historical accuracy,” but they add nothing to the film.
Free Fire could have been an entertaining, violent ride. Instead, they focus too heavily on the violence and not enough on the story. Even though it has a relatively short run time, it feels much longer. I would wait to rent this one.