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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Free Fire

July 16th, 2017

Free Fire - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand

Free Fire

Free Fire opened in theaters in April. It wasn’t expected to be a major hit, or even a midlevel hit, but almost no one expected it to bomb as badly as it did. It didn’t just open below the Mendoza Line, had it opened with as much as it made in total, it still would have been below the Mendoza Line. Is it really as bad as its box office numbers would indicate? Or is it a hidden gem?

The Movie

This might be the shortest plot summary I ever write, as the film is about a gun deal that goes wrong almost immediately. How it goes wrong is a spoiler, so I can’t give any plot details. All I can do is name the characters and which of the three groups they belong with.

The gun runners are Vern and Martin, plus their two... gophers? Mules? Harry and Gordon have the guns and are by the van in an undisclosed location. They will bring them once the deal is settled. The buyers are a couple of IRA representatives, Frank and Chris. They also have a pair of mules of their own, Stevo and Bernie. Finally there are two intermediaries, Ord and Justine. Like I said above, they meet for a gun deal and things go to hell nearly immediately.

Free Fire takes what would be one scene in a normal movie and stretches it out to feature-length. Because of this, it lacks the traditional structure movies usually have and the lack of character arcs, for example, will limit its appeal. Also, there are almost no sympathetic characters in the movie, which is another barrier to enjoying the movie. Some of the characters are so instantly grating that you’ll be hoping they are among the first to die. I can’t say for sure which character will get on the nerves the most for every viewer, but odds are the one you hate the most will not be the one to die early. So besides the strange structure and the lack of sympathetic characters, it’s a good movie that’s worth checking out, right? Mostly. The action is equal parts over-the-top and realistic. The number of gun shots and bullet wounds that happen in this movie are very high. However, like in real life, a single bullet wound is very rarely fatal. Additionally, while some of the characters had me rooting for their swift deaths, it was never because the acting is bad. The actors all do a great job at bringing their characters to life. There is one execution error. There were times when I had trouble figuring out where the characters were in relation to each other. It wasn’t a pervasive problem, but it happened enough to be an issue and reduce my overall enjoyment of the movie.

That said, I dug the style and I had a great time watching the movie twice for this review and I plan on watching it again with friends next weekend. It’s not a deep movie, but it is entertaining.

The Extras

There are only two extras, starting with an audio commentary with the director, Ben Wheatley, as well as two of the stars, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor. There is also a 16-minute long making of featurette. The film bombed in theaters, so I’m happy we got anything.

The Verdict

Free Fire doesn’t have a plot and instead has an excuse to get about a dozen characters shooting at each other in a confined location. If that sounds intriguing to you, then I’m happy to report that the execution is mostly excellent. The DVD and Blu-ray don’t have a lot of extras, but both of the special features are worth checking out. The target audience here is small enough that renting first is a wise move, but I think those that like it will want to watch it more than once.

Filed under: Video Review, Free Fire, Enzo Cilenti, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, Michael Smiley, Ben Wheatley, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay