When I saw the trailer for Free Fire about a month back, I thought it looked interesting, but maybe not “movie theater prices” interesting. Fortunately, I still had some money left on the AMC gift card I received for Christmas, so this morning, I headed over to Times Square to catch a screening. It ended being the one of funniest feature-length shootouts I’ve seen in quite awhile—a parody of action movie excesses that’s part Monty Python and part Reservoir Dogs, in which the greatest source of humor is the very fact that it exists.
The setup couldn’t be simpler: a suave Irish “freedom fighter” (Cillian Murphy) wants to buy guns from a conceited South African arms dealer (Sharlto Copley), but the petty squabbling between their underlings quickly erupts into a bloodbath so gratuitous and chaotic that the combatants frequently lose track of whose side they’re supposed to be on. Beyond that, there’s honestly not much more to say, not because the film is style over substance, but because the style is the substance. Free Fire is a disorienting bullet ballet in which dumb, selfish criminals spend ninety minutes turning each other into Swiss cheese for no good reason. Whether you walk away feeling it was a meaningful meditation on the senselessness of violence or a dumb, visceral roller coaster ride is up to you; all I know is that I dug it.
[Originally written April 26, 2017.]