Rated Greg’s Top 5 Movie Shootouts
- A Man with a Guitar Case Walks into a Bar – Desperado
- Bank Robbery Aftermath – Heat
- Airport Hanger Climax – Bad Boys
- Shootout at Candyland – Django Unchained
- The O.K. Corral – Tombstone
Reservoir Dogs meets Snatch. The premise of the action-comedy Free Fire is both simple and yet quite brilliant. Ten characters, each of varying levels of dickheadishness, meet for an illegal gun deal in 1970’s Massachusetts and relations between the two parties quickly turn sour over the course of 90 minutes. The hook of this film is that the escalating shootout that transpires is unlike any of the shoot ‘em ups you’ve seen before on the big screen.
Try thinking of the heavily choreographed gunfights from your favorite action movies. Many times they involve stunt doubles wielding a pistol in each hand, somersaulting over various objects and shooting henchman with the precision of a samurai, all the while looking like a cool motherfucker as the bullets exit the chamber (John Woo’s Face/Off from 1997 comes to mind, or John Wick more recently). Free Fire takes that movie trope and throws it on its ass, literally. When the shit hits the fan, none of these characters really have any business wielding a firearm, no matter how tough they saw themselves up to that point. Director Ben Wheatley wanted to see what a realistic gunfight among the untrained might look like and he executes it in riotous fashion. Usually someone getting shot wouldn’t exactly be a punchline in an action film, but somehow it works over and over again in this environment full of assholes. Grade: B+
Two more items of note:
- Wheatley purposely set this movie in “Massachusetts” as opposed to specifically in Boston because he didn’t want to deal with any critical dissection of the Boston accent. While I love Boston movies, this was clearly the right call given the variety of Irish, British, South African accents already in the movie. Free Fire could pretty much be set anywhere, so I’m not sure how they landed on “Massachusetts” of all locales.
- I want to make it clear that this is not a spoof on action movies. This is not “Not Another Shoot ‘Em Up Movie.” It’s much more original and clever than that, with real stakes, and the pedigree of the actors involved should insinuate that (Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, and the MVP of the film Sharlto Copley).