Film Critic: 'Free Fire' Misses the Target

May 5, 2017

1970s, Boston, shoulder pads, big hair, empty warehouse, and lots and lots of guns. That may very well summarize all you need to know before seeing Free Fire.

It’s the latest by filmmaker Ben Wheatley - a shoot-out action comedy about an arms deals gone wrong.  And really, it’s essentially just a 90-minute shoot-out, according to arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, and Lake Effect film contributor, Dave Luhrssen.

"Here's a movie where there are many things I like about it, but I don't really like the movie as a whole," he says.

The cast is strong, the 1970s retro B-movie theme is enjoyable and, Luhrssen says, the labyrinthine plot always keeps you guessing. "The problem I have with this movie, even though there is some virtuosic staging going on, is I don't find an hour and a half of people shooting at each other within one room to be very interesting."

*Warning: trailer contains strong language

While there may be a way to make a shoot-out film with one setting and a dozen characters interesting, Luhrssen doesn't think Wheatley accomplished that.

"This movie was obviously a tribute to [1970s B-movies] and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, but  Reservoir Dogs had a momentum...this movie just gets stalled," he explains. "I think there could've been a better version of this movie done by someone else."

However, Luhrssen says, the script is strong, which helps keeps the audience relatively engaged.  "Much of the dialog was good," he admits. "I wish these people would've maybe continued their gun fight elsewhere, or something else had happened. It's posing a sort of challenge from a screen writing standpoint - what do you do with this kind of situation? Is it even realistic?"