Friday, April 28, 2017

Movie Review: FREE FIRE

Going into this film, I honestly didn't know what to expect.  Many of my friends have been highly anticipating this film, with equally high expectations.  However, some of them who have seen the film were slightly disappointed.  They weren't saying it was a bad film, just that it didn't meet their, as I said, high expectations.  And if I'm being completely honest, I have to agree.  Free Fire is an enjoyable film, but it's not one that I'll be raving about for weeks to come.  It may be the ultimate deal-gone-wrong film, but unfortunately, it also came very close to being a film-gone-wrong.

Free Fire tells the story of what should have been a straightforward gun deal in 1978 Boston, that turns into a massive shootout and a game of survival after things go south.  The film as a whole is an interesting premise, as these concepts tend to be saved for the third act of an action flick.  And unfortunately, it felt like a stretched out version of that.  This entire film could have been condensed down into an epic 20-30 minutes third act free-for-all, and it probably would have been one of the best things on film this year.  Even with its relatively short 90-minute run time, it still felt a bit bloated.

There were several points throughout the film where it just felt stagnant, like they were trying to kill time by having the characters, who've all been shot in one way or another, sit there and chat a bit.  Now, don't get me wrong, some of those scene were actually really funny, as most of the dialogue in the film was snappy and on point.  But even snappy dialogue can't detract from an overly long scene causing a bit of boredom.

The best thing about Free Fire, and the thing that probably saved it from being a bad film was the characters, and the actors that portrayed them.  Now, not all of the characters where ones that I liked, in fact, there was one in particular and that was Harry played by Jack Reynor.  This was a character that seemed like you were supposed to sympathize with, but because of just how much of a dick he was, I couldn't get behind him.  Reynor's performance of this character was fine, that wasn't the issue, it was the character himself, the way he was written.

Outside of Harry, most of the other characters were at the very least somewhat likable, with a few standing out above the rest.  Of the main four performances (Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer), I think two were pretty good and two were great.  Academy Award winner Brie Larson, though giving a good performance, wasn't one of the two true standouts in this film.  I liked her character, but honestly, I don't think she did much throughout most of the film.  The other was Cillian Murphy.  He definitely had more to do than Larson, but his character just never really popped for me.  Though both of them are great actors, and both gave good performances here, this just wasn't their day to shine.

But, you know who did shine in this film?  Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley.  The last thing I saw Hammer in was that awful The Lone Ranger film with Johnny Depp.  And even though he gave a fine performance in that, it was overshadowed by such a poorly written script, which made him somewhat forgettable.  I've heard he was really good in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but I have not actually seen that one yet.  So going in, I wasn't really expecting much from him, and he blew me away.  He had a swagger about him and delivered some excellent lines of dialogue.  And he's funny, especially with his interactions with Sharlto Copley.  Now, Copley I've seen in several things, including District 9, Elysium, Maleficent, and my favorite performance of his, The A-Team.  So I knew he was good and could deliver, but I didn't think it'd be on this level.  This character reminded me a lot of his character from The A-Team, which, as I said, is my favorite of his.  He kept the energy high every time he opened his mouth, and this film could've used a few more high energy moments.

Overall, I enjoyed the film.  I probably wouldn't go see it again in the theater, but I'd consider giving it a second shot once it hits Blu-ray or VOD.  I would say if it's something that looks interesting to you, give it a shot, but my advice would be to temper your expectations, that way you may enjoy it even more.

The Merc's Score: 7.5/10

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